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Friday, June 26, 2015

Leadership Part 1: Nehemiah

Many people associate Nehemiah as a prophet or priest, but he wasn’t in the ministry at all. He is like most of us - serving the Lord in a layman’s capacity. The book of Nehemiah opens with Nehemiah in Shushan sometime between 420-455 BC. However, most scholars suggest the book starts around 444-445 BC. Nehemiah’s claim to fame is his re-building the wall around Jerusalem. The temple had ­­­­been rebuilt, but there were no walls to protect or fortify the city. Nehemiah traveled to Israel leading the 3rd journey of Jews back to Israel after being in Babylonian captivity for 70 years. His reputation was of a humble man with an upright character. He led by example as both cup-bearer to King Artaxerxes II of Persia and civil governor of Jerusalem. He exhibited determination and leadership to fulfill the calling the Lord bestowed upon him.


Each one of us is in some type of leadership role. It might be as a minister, a church member, a boss, a teacher, a parent, a politician, or a business owner. Today we are going to look at the first 5 leadership skills using Nehemiah as our model. We can be a masterful leader in the various positions God has called us to whether in the office, ministry, or home. Next week, we will continue with 5 more leadership skills Nehemiah possessed.

Leadership Skills

1. Make your voice and presence known to those who count.
When Nehemiah heard that the wall of Jerusalem had been broken down and its gates had been destroyed, he sat down and wept. He mourned for days and prayed to God. It was the Lord to whom he first made his voice and presence known. Then in the first part of Nehemiah 2, he addresses the King. Notice that when Nehemiah fervently prayed over this need, God put it in his heart to be the person to meet that need. After praying about a situation or issue, often we find ourselves to be the one or part of a group to help with that matter. As with Nehemiah, we all have projects or goals that the Lord has given us or that we want to accomplish. Let’s accept God’s calling and see if we can utilize some of Nehemiah’s strategies to succeed.
"Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned."
Nehemiah 1:6 ESV.

2. Spend time planning your project(s).
Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem with a good reputation from Shushan. His reputation followed him, and the people already respected him. He could have immediately told his workers what to do. But, as a leader, we find him taking the time to evaluate the situation; then spending time planning before approaching others. How often do we involve ourselves in a project without the adequate preparation? Probably too often. In this chapter, we see Nehemiah laying out his strategy for meeting the goal of restoring the wall around Jerusalem.
"I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire."
Nehemiah 2:13 ESV.

3. Stand up for what is right.
While being a Godly man, Nehemiah became angry when he heard about the injustices in Jerusalem. Nehemiah and his men were called feeble. They were being taunted. He personally was ridiculed by Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabians, Ammonites and Ashdodites. They were angry because God had purposed His plan in Nehemiah’s heart to restore the wall. Nehemiah prayed while his enemies were conspiring to go to Jerusalem to persecute, hinder, and try to stop the progress on the wall. But, Nehemiah was confident in what God had called him and his men to do. He talked to the nobles, the rulers, and the people and made a plan to prevent the injustice from occurring. When on the job, do you ever see injustices? If so, we would be well-advised to follow Nehemiah’s example – to pray – then talk to the right people about it.
"And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night . . . And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes."
Nehemiah 4: 9,14 ESV.

4. Set clear expectations for performance.
Even while men were conniving against Nehemiah, we can deduct that Nehemiah had his game plan in motion. His men knew exactly what to do. How do we know this? We know this because his men finished the project in 52 days. That was an amazing feat. Nehemiah did not leave his men to fend for themselves without direction. He gave them specific and sensible instructions. The men of Jericho, the Levites, the Priests and the other builders knew exactly what part of the wall was assigned for them to build. These workers enjoyed working for someone they respected and that had clear plans and guidelines in place. As leaders, we also should make our expectations clear to those working with and alongside of us.
"The wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God."
Nehemiah 6:15-16 ESV.
Wall -Used by Permission from


5. Surround yourself with good talent.
After the wall and all the gates were built, Nehemiah gave his brother Hanani (a relative and colleague) and Hananiah (ruler of the palace/court) charge over Jerusalem. But why? He gave them the job because they had already proven they were worthy of handling the mission. Nehemiah was honoring the hard work and trustworthiness he had already observed in them. When we need to ask someone to take charge of a job or project, do you find yourself asking the person you think is the most capable? Most of us do. However, sometimes leaders try to do too much themselves without delegating. When we reach the stage of being an overseer (being in a leadership role), it is time to move away from being the specialist and become the generalist who sees the big picture using the talented people you have charge over. Nehemiah did.
"Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of the castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many."
Nehemiah 7:1-2 ESV.

Spoiler Alert: Check back next week with Green Pastures by Patti: Inspiring Stories about Prayer and Bible Study for the next 5 leadership traits entitled Leadership Part 2: Nehemiah

  • Acknowledging God as your strength;
  • Correct and admonish when needed;
  • Obey the company or ministry policies;
  • Celebrate the achievements of others; and
  • Define the roles and responsibilities AGAIN.

Bible Verses:

Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.
Proverbs 11:14
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
Galatians 6:9
So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them with his skillful hands.
Psalms 78:72


Oh Lord, help us to see opportunities to be servants for you. Let us also see areas where you want us to be leaders. Let us follow your leading and be the best leaders we can. Give us your directions, your wisdom, and your skills. Let us live our lives seeing life from your perspective. We love you. In Jesus' Name.

God bless you.
Patti Greene

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Books by Patti Londa Greene
Awaken Me: a devotional prayer journal
God, It’s Me: 181 Days for Young Adults to Become Passionate about Prayer and Bible Study

 “Nehemiah: Who wrote the book?” The Bible-Teaching Ministry of Charles R. Swindoll. [21 June 2015.]

Stedman, Ray. “Nehemiah: Rebuilding the walls.” Authentic Christianity. [June 21, 2015.]

Wallace, Wanda T. and David Creelman. Leading people when they know more than you do. Harvard Business Review. 16 June 2015. Web.