“Then it was, when the wall was built and I had hung the doors, when the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, 2 that I gave the charge of Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the leader of the [a]citadel, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many. 3 And I said to them, “Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand guard, let them shut and bar the doors; and appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, one at his watch station and another in front of his own house.”
As we get ready to wrap up our series in Nehemiah I want us to come back to chapter 7 that I purposefully left till the end. It’s here in chapter 7 that Nehemiah gives us seven leadership principles. As we consider Nehemiah’s example, we see that life changing leadership requires both courage and grace. Over and over again, in the face of all kinds of odds, Nehemiah courageously led. Instead of caving to the opposition he kept his focus on what God called him to do. Not only did he face the call courageously, but he did it graciously as well. It is crucial for leaders not only to lead with courage but model God’s grace. Because if we don’t, we will never recognize our role in the greater picture. We have all been called to a life of leadership and it is my prayer that as we learn how to lead well that we won’t just listen to the Word but that we will live out the Word. When it comes to leadership lessons Nehemiah reveals that the first leadership principle, we need to pay attention to involves having clear:
- Priorities – Vs 1
In verse 1 Nehemiah establishes three priorities, the first revolves around providing:
A. Physical protection.
Nehemiah posts guards to protect the gates because the gates were the weak link in the walls. So, let me ask you where and what are the weak links in your walls, and are you posting watchmen to guard over those weaknesses where you are most vulnerable. As men the gates to our city are our eyes, and one of the greatest guards we can employ are accountability partners who will ask us the hard questions. Now as men we need to take the lead when it comes to providing protection for our families. Part of your mandate as a man is to be a gate keeper for your family. Last week we saw in chapter 13 that these guards were not just entrusted with physical protection but also spiritual protection. They were called on to close the gates at Sabbath. What guards are you stationing at the gates of your heart? What gates do you need to shut so that you can protect your family spiritually? It’s not always bad things that we need to say no to, because even good things can get in the way of God things. Something as simple as sports can take the place of the Savior. And before we know it, we are raising our kids in a basketball court instead of in Christian community. Instead of the central focus being the cross it becomes a pole, we trade Him for a hoop. But we convince ourselves that it’s ok because after all we think of all the families we can reach for Christ on that court. But what we forget is that before we go to war, we need to worship, look we gather together to praise Him and to prepare our hearts to serve Him. Trading our time in worship for witnessing will never work, because you can’t give what you have not received. Many of us are trying to pour out from a position of poverty because we are not spending time in praise. Look if you don’t guard the gates you will raise your kids to believe that sorts more important than the Savior. The second priority:
Nehemiah appointed singers to lead in worship. Nehemiah understood that there is more to life than work. Our primary purpose is worship, and if we are not careful, we will replace it with lesser things. All work and no worship leads to worry. Many of us are living weary worn out lives because there is no worship. Worship provides perspective because it reminds us that God is our number one priority. The problem is that many of us are putting the Savior in second place instead of the preeminent place. So, let me ask you are you giving priority to the problems or to the praise? Without worship our witness will soon represent that of the world and it won’t be long before we are reduced to a city without walls. Worship reminds us of Gods faithfulness and forgiveness, worship reminds us that we can’t walk without Him. The third priority was to:
C. Provide biblical teaching.
Here we find Nehemiah appointing the Levites as Israel’s teachers. It was their responsibility to teach biblical truth and impart the great realities of the faith. This week I was reminded of the importance of the repetition of serious study because no matter how you have read a scripture you can always walk away with new insights because God’s Word is living and active. Are you making protection, praise and the study of scripture a priority? Are you giving time to trivial things or to the truth? Where are you receiving your training, is it from the Word of God or from the world? 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 is both a courageous and 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 picked 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?