Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross
I do not agree with the statement, “The church is only as strong as its weakest member.” Too many churches have grown despite a few weak members. However, I do believe that the church is only as strong as its leadership.
It is not a new trend in our society or in the church—it has always been difficult to convince people to be leaders. Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Saul, Jeremiah, Jonah, and Peter are just a few men in the days of the Bible who hesitated, even resisted, when called by God to lead. Leadership has many built-in frustrations—one’s own limitations, the limitations of others, the limits of time, criticism, under-appreciation, feelings of isolation, miscommunication, and added responsibility. It is a popular pastime of many to criticize the leadership, but if the job were so easy why is there a shortage of leaders?!
Nehemiah stresses the importance of strong leadership throughout the book. Notice what the Holy Spirit, through this noble and competent leader, reveals about good leadership:
- Good leaders have a heart of compassion (1:1-4)
- Good leaders have a strong prayer life (1:5-11)–see 1:5; 2:4; 4:4-9;5:19; 9:17; ch. 13
- Good leaders have a proven record of leadership (1:11)
- Good leaders are courageous (2:2-3)
- Good leaders plan the work well (2:7-9)
- Good leaders communicate (2:17-18)
- Good leaders are positive (2:20)
- Good leaders successfully handle complaints and criticisms (4:7-8; 5:1-6)
- Good leaders are watchful (4:21-23)
- Good leaders know there is a place for rebuke (5:7-13)
- Good leaders are no strangers to sacrifice (5:14-18)
- Good leaders fear God (5:15)
- Good leaders are hospitable (5:17)
- Good leaders encourage the hurting (5:15; 8:9-12)
- Good leaders avoid distraction (6:2)
- Good leaders correct misinformation (6:8)
- Good leaders follow through and aim for completion (6:16)
We can measure Nehemiah’s good leadership through the speed and success of his initial task or the sustained leadership he provided for the next twelve years as governor of Judah. We can measure it by the gentleness he showed the hurting and needy, or by the conviction he showed in correcting the immoral and unethical. There was even his ability to work through problems with his brethren and with the enemy. Nehemiah provided balanced leadership, guided by God and submissive to His plans. That’s what is required of great leadership today!