Nehemiah 2- Leadership Takes Discernment (part 1)

Last week I started a new Sunday series on leadership from the book of Nehemiah.  It is something I developed a while back, but am hopeful someone can benefit from it.  Please let me know if you do.

Nehemiah 2- Leadership Takes Discernment 

Part 1- Discerning Influence

1.  Nehemiah has now recognized a burden from God and has been praying for the perfect time to act.  After his prayer in chapter 1,  he says, “I was cupbearer to the king.”  (Nehemiah 1:11)  This is significant because he would naturally have the respect of the king and be in a natural position to get the king’s attention.

Leadership Principle # 1-  Leadership is about understanding where your leadership platform is and being bold enough to lead from there.

Part 2- Discerning Timing

1.  Nehemiah had been distressed for the situation in Jerusalem for some time now.  Yet, he never let on to the king that he was upset because doing so could be disastrous to him.   In fact, when the time came for him to approach the king with this burden it says, “I was very much afraid.” (Nehemiah 2:2)  He understood the importance of timing in getting the mission accomplished.  “Impatience leads to reaction against events instead of waiting for divine direction.  Impatience causes leaders to sacrifice insight for effort. It causes us to trust our natural instincts rather than God’s work in our life” (Gene Wilkes, Jesus on Leadership)

Leadership Principle # 2-  Leaders have a natural sense of timing.  Things like when to speak and when not to speak shows wisdom and makes someone naturally stronger as a leader.

Part 3- Discerning the Process

1.  Nehemiah had a boldness about his approach to the king.  After time spent in prayer and grief over this situation, he reaches the time to act.  Having never shown his sadness in the presence of the king before, he decides to stop holding it back.  The king notices his sadness and questions him on it.  He says, “I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever!  Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. “  (Nehemiah 2:2-3)

“Winston Churchill said, “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required”

Leadership Principle # 3-   Leaders are able to discern the approach that needs to be taken and are willing to take the necessary steps to get it done.

2.  Nehemiah knew exactly what he needed to complete the task and was willing to let the king know what those things were.  In order to know, he needed to spend some time thinking through all the details of the task.  This shows administration skills that Nehemiah possessed that came in handy when the king inquired of his needs.  It wouldn’t have been as effective if he had a hard time listing what exactly he was looking for.

Leadership Principle # 4-  Leaders have thought through the process and determined what it is they need to get the job done.

3. Nehemiah was willing to take risks to get to where he needed to be.  When the king asked him about his sad face it could have been a death sentence.  Instead, it was a freeing moment for him as the king essentially gives him everything he needs.  If he didn’t have the guts to ask the question, he wouldn’t have gone anywhere.

“Leaders take risks because they see the future before anyone else” (Wilkes)

“Servant leaders can risk serving others when they trust that God is in control of their lives” (Wilkes)

“Because the gracious hand of God was upon me, the king granted my requests.” (Nehemiah 2:8)

Leadership Principle # 5-  Leaders are willing to take risks in order to get the job done because they see the big picture and know it is the right thing to do.   They understand that this is the work of God and that they cannot fail if they do His work.

4.  Nehemiah doesn’t allow himself to get slowed down by details or fears.   He takes the letter he gets from the king and he leaves town.   The king also included protection for his journey, which was not something he had asked for.   It says, “So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters.”  (Nehemiah 2:9)

“Those fifteen words summarize travel through 800 miles of the most dangerous territory on earth.  Those whose territory he traveled through would not have been happy to hear of his mission”  (John Kitchen, Revival in the Rubble)

Leadership Principle # 6-  Leaders know when the time to act is and they do it.  This means not letting fear of the unknown, or even things known, to get in the way.

*Since this one was so long, I have split it into two parts.  I will continue this next week.  For now, I think there is enough here to consider and ask God to speak to you about.  I trust it will be a  blessing to you as you look at His word.


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