1 After the wall was finished and I had set up the doors in the gates, the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites were appointed. 2 I gave the responsibility of governing Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah, the commander of the fortress, for he was a faithful man who feared God more than most. 3 I said to them, “Do not leave the gates open during the hottest part of the day.[a] And even while the gatekeepers are on duty, have them shut and bar the doors. Appoint the residents of Jerusalem to act as guards, everyone on a regular watch. Some will serve at sentry posts and some in front of their own homes.” 4 At that time the city was large and spacious, but the population was small, and none of the houses had been rebuilt. 5 So my God gave me the idea to call together all the nobles and leaders of the city, along with the ordinary citizens, for registration. I had found the genealogical record of those who had first returned to Judah. This is what was written there: 6 Here is the list of the Jewish exiles of the provinces who returned from their captivity. King Nebuchadnezzar had deported them to Babylon, but now they returned to Jerusalem and the other towns in Judah where they originally lived.
On the heels of priorities we see that the second leadership principle involves:
- Passing the Baton –Vs 2-3
Leaders need to find other faithful leaders, they need to be willing to let go and let others follow in their footsteps. Now this act of preparing others so we can pass the baton is both a courageous and a gracious act. It is courageous because many of us have this bogus believe that no one can do it as well as we can. It takes courage and confidence to say that I may not be needed in this particular role anymore. It is a gracious act because sometimes a leader has to give up a role that they enjoy doing themselves to make room for others to serve. If we are not careful we will become selfish servants and if that happens we will never engage the next generation and the baton we carry today will be the baton that is dropped when we die. Nehemiah shows us the importance of discipleship when he turns leadership roles over to Hanani and Hananiah. Why does he pick these two and who should you be investing in, those who exhibit reliability and reverence. Leaders who put God first and make serving people a priority. So let me ask you do you reflect reliability and reverence? Do you love God and His people? The third leadership principle to look for is:
- Potential – Vs 4
Nehemiah writes, “At that time the city was large and spacious, but the population was small, and none of the houses had been rebuilt.” Nehemiah observed correctly, that although Jerusalem’s walls were built, the city was empty. He reminds us that leaders should not be satisfied with the status quo. It would have been tempting to sit back and be satisfied with the work on the walls, but Nehemiah not only saw great potential, he made plans to pursue it. What about you do you see the potential in the places and the people that God has put in your life? Or are you tempted to sit back and be satisfied with the status quo? When that happens we don’t just settle for second we surrender to Satan, because his plan involves complacent Christians who are content with maintaining instead of moving. Lazy leadership in the church is not of the Lord, if we settle for maintaining then we are not only courting complacency we will kill the church. For a while, the church will look like its ok but just like the Titanic, it won’t be long before it begins to list under the weight of more and more selfish servants who make the mission personal happiness instead of pursuing holiness. When we trade Christ’s commission of seeing souls saved for that of comfort, the church will go from fruitful to feeble. Nehemiah was progressive he saw the potential but there are those who have poor insight on the future? For example a Western Union internal memo in 1876 said…“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” In the 1920s, David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio said…“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” Or one which is closer to our time, a Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service said…“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.” Fred Smith, by the way, went on to found Federal Express Corp, which had over 15 billion in revenue so far this year, 2017. Nehemiah saw the potential, great leaders paint a picture of what could be. We need to be careful that we don’t get so focused on the problems that we miss the potential. There are many churches and individuals that are letting the how kill the wow. The fourth leadership principle is a powerful one that we often fail to employ:
- Prayer – Vs 5
In verse 5 Nehemiah reveals the power of prayer, “Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles and the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogy.” Leaders need to know the heart of God, and that only comes through time on your knees. Your greatest asset is not your ability it’s your availability before the Almighty. Look the plan to repopulate Jerusalem was the result of time in prayer not Nehemiah’s proficiency. Nehemiah’s success stems from sitting with the Savior and so will yours. Pursuing God in prayer protected Nehemiah from pride. Prayer requires time in God’s presence, great leaders do life with the Lord because they know they are dependent on Him for direction. So how are you doing when it comes to passing the baton, who are you investing in? What about when it comes to potential, do you see the potential or only the problems? Are you letting the how kill the wow? What about prayer are you a leader who spends time with the Lord? Today we want God to meet our needs we just don’t want to spend time on our knees. But powerful leaders are people who spend time in prayer.