We are working out way through Nehemiah for the leadership lessons inside. This week we take three chapters at once.
Nehemiah 8, 9 & 10- Leadership is Shepherding People
1. Now that the people had completed a task together, they were experiencing a new sense of unity and hope. Ezra is invited to come and read the law of Moses to them. He read it for hours and hours in what was, perhaps, the first time they had gone back to read the law in a long time. They had a new hunger for the Word of God and were intent on listening in communion with God.
“Effective preaching happens when the Spirit of God takes the word of God and transforms us into the people of God” – John Kitchen in “Revival in the Rubble”
Leadership Principle # 1- Leaders shepherd people by knowing, obeying and teaching the Word of God. They have an appreciation for the Word and use it as their authoritative guide.
2. There is clearly heart change going on in the people. The Word of God is becoming clear to them by the work of the Holy Spirit. You can see it in their response.
“Amen! Amen! Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.” (Nehemiah 8:6)
Leadership Principle # 2- Leaders shepherd people to the throne of God with consistency. They also constantly petition God to work in their hearts.
3. The Word of God was convicting the people in their sin and they were getting very gloomy. So, Nehemiah recognizing what was going on, quickly addresses the situation. He said, “This day is sacred to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” (Nehemiah 8:9)
Leadership Principle # 3- Leaders shepherd people with proper counsel in their emotional times. This means assessing what is going on and providing the encouraging word they need.
Part 2- From Celebration to Confession
1. Nehemiah has allowed their celebration for the wonderful work of God among them. He has encouraged them to worship the Lord and celebrate all that He has done. The work in the hearts of the people is not complete because he work of restoring the relationship between God and man needs to be completed. They stood before the Word of God and confessed their sins. Sin is not a popular topic, but it was what the people needed and Nehemiah knew it.
“It is not doing things we like to do, but doing things we have to do that causes growth” – John Maxwell
Leadership Principle #4- Leaders will lead people through a problem by addressing what needs to be done. In this case, the sin that had caused them all that hardship needed to be put aside and a new chapter written.
2. The prayer listed here is a long one that includes mostly praise and confession. Nehemiah begins his leadership with a proper understanding of his place before God. Now he has the opportunity to shepherd the people to that very same understanding. This shows that they have fully subscribed to him as their shepherding leader.
“No matter how smart, talented, and persuasive you are naturally or by training, you are not the leader until the group you are leading says so. The mantle of leadership is bestowed on you by those who grasp your mission and choose to follow you” Gene Wilkes in “Jesus on Leadership”
Leadership Principle # 5- Leaders are only really leading if people are following them.
3. The confession doesn’t just lead to nowhere. It leads to the development of a plan to not go back there again. It says, “In view of all of this we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites are affixing their seals to it.” (Nehemiah 9: 38) It was not enough to confess what was wrong in the past. There needed to be a line drawn in the sand and a vision cast for what they are to be about in the future. There is momentum here for change and a new direction.
Leadership Principle #6 – Leaders create momentum and use it to implement change.
So, I trust this has once again inspired you in your leadership roles. How are you shepherding people and how are people shepherding you?