Thursday, June 7, 2007

LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM NEHEMIAH (PART 2)

In the last blog I shared some leadership principles from the book of Nehemiah. The lessons were gleaned from recent discussion in a staff meeting. Here are some principles we discovered while discussing Chapter 2.

Prayer played a vital role in Chapter 2 just like in Chapter 1. Have you noticed how much more evident the hand of God is when you pray? Are you praying for your church? Are you praying for the lost to be saved and the saved to grow up? Are you praying for life change? Are you praying that we break through whatever barriers may be keeping us from significant growth?

Nehemiah was prepared before he approached the king. When the king noticed his sadness and asked what he needed, Nehemiah was ready with an answer. He didn’t just fly off the cuff. No, he was ready. He had already thought through his strategy in case the King asked. Do you agree that effective strategies require lots of prayer, forethought, and planning?

When he arrived in Jerusalem, he modeled a leadership principle that often gets overlooked. He practiced the law of timing in sharing his vision. The vision of rebuilding the wall had been burning in his soul for some time. But he kept quiet until he knew the plan for carrying out the vision. Sometimes leaders make the fatal mistake of sharing the vision, getting the people all excited, but then having no idea how to implement it. Nehemiah surveyed the rubble extensively before he ever pulled the workforce together.

Nehemiah communicated the vision with great clarity. When the time was right, he got the Hebrews together and said, “Let’s rebuild these walls.” The vision could not have been stated any clearer. I’ve heard Tony Evans say many times, “A mist in the pulpit results in a fog in the pew.” The leader needs a vision. But just as important, he must make sure the vision gets communicated in such a way that there is no confusion.

A leader must know how to handle criticism. Any significant work of the Lord will conjure up critics from every corner. Nehemiah serves as a master teacher in how to handle critics. All through the story the critics try to stop the rebuilding project. Each time Nehemiah handles them with great skill. In Chapter 2 the critics mocked, ridiculed, and accused Nehemiah of rebelling against the king. Paraphrasing Nehemiah’s response, “Mock us all you want. God’s with us. We’re pressing on whether you like it or not!” Certainly his response must have served as a tremendous morale booster for the Hebrews. This leader had guts and they were willing to give a hundred percent effort to work for him.