I was reading through the first couple chapters of Nehemiah today and realized how many great leadership lessons there are to learn from our Biblical contractor.
1. Nehemiah had a passion for people first, church second. It says in chapter 1 verse 2 that Nehemiah questioned Hanani about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. In ministry, we often get these two things reversed. We have a passion first for our ministry and second for the people. This often leads to “using” our flock to accomplish our ministry goals.
2. Nehemiah was courageous. He knew that allowing the king to see him unhappy might be a death sentence. Not to mention his bold request for time off, letters of permission, and resources. However, he was willing to take the risk in order to accomplish something great for his people. We need more courage from our church leaders (speaking to myself as well) to do and say the right things even when it hurts.
3. Nehemiah had a plan. In the second chapter, Nehemiah slips out of Jerusalem by night to get a firsthand look at the damaged walls. He knew he would probably get one shot to present his case to the people. He had to have a plan that was practical and inspirational. As creative people, sometimes planning isn’t our strong suit. However, it is vital that we know where we are going as a team for everyone to feel safe to contribute.
4. Nehemiah was patient. Notice in chapter 2 verse 11 that he stayed in Jerusalem for 3 days before heading out to inspect the wall. Now 3 days isn’t very long, but there’s a principle here that is often violated in church leadership. John Maxwell calls it the Law of Buy-In. It simply means that people buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. Many church leaders have crashed and burned in their first year of ministry by violating this principle. People need time to get to know a leader and for the leader to build relationships with the people. Putting programs before people will result in hurt and inevitably broken relationships.