Decision making is critical leadership skill for every effective leader. Read Nehemiah 1:1-11.
Nehemiah was a Jewish man who had gained favor with Persian Royalty during the time the Jews were exiled from Israel to Babylon. Nehemiah lived in a time after the Persians had conquered Babylon, in the 20th year of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, (445/444 BC), and Nehemiah was cup-bearer to the king. A cup-bearer is an officer of high rank in royal courts, whose duty it was to serve the drinks at the royal table. Since there was constant fear of plots and intrigues, a cup-bearer must be regarded as thoroughly trustworthy to hold this position. When Nehemiah heard some difficult news from those who had returned to Persia from Jerusalem he had a major decision to make. If he asked to leave the kings service, even for a short period of time, to return to Jerusalem to help his fellow countrymen, he might be regarded as disloyal and suffer prison or death.
Effective leaders provide for leadership during their long-term absences. Read Nehemiah 13.
Nehemiah is one of the best models of effective leadership in the Bible. But, even Nehemiah left some vital leadership roles unfinished and they ultimately hurt both him and his team. After 12 years in Jerusalem, Nehemiah returned to Babylon to once again serve the king. According to 13:6, “…Some time later I asked his permission and came back to Jerusalem.” Upon his return he learned that a priest had allowed a foreigner to use part of the temple as his extravagant residence, that the people no longer provided provisions for the priests and Levites as required by the Law of God, and that the Jewish residents had violated the covenant they had made with God and were once again intermarrying with pagan neighbors.
Wise leaders understand the importance of celebration after a major victory. Read Nehemiah 12:27-43.
The small contingent of Jews under Nehemiah’s leadership had accomplished the impossible task of rebuilding over one mile of wall around Jerusalem in 52 days. They had taken heaps of rubble and transformed them into a massive wall complete with impressive, fortified gates and several guard towers. The people had worked through exhaustion and with their enemies threatening attacks day and night.
No matter where you are in the organizational chart, set your goal to be a leader’s leader. Read Nehemiah 10:1-29.
After the wall around Jerusalem was finished, the gates had been hung, and the people living in and around Jerusalem had spent a month worshiping God and gaining a deeper understanding of the Book of the Law, Nehemiah felt it appropriate for the people to make a deeper commitment to God to validate their belief that He had granted and orchestrated their success. According to 9:38, “In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it.” Nehemiah had the wisdom to understand human nature – we tend to remember contracts and covenants longer than undocumented experience.
Tags: Lead by Example
Too often a leader’s core values are just statements written on a wall plaque or talked about at meetings. Wise leaders want their team to understand and apply the established core values. Read Nehemiah 8:8, 13; 9:38 and 10:28-30.
The value system and code of conduct of the Jews living in Judah during Nehemiah’s rule found its basis in writings of Moses. The Jews believed God gave Moses the instructions directly and Moses wrote them down for all future generations to live by. These writings are so profound that most of the laws of the United States yet today find their roots in them. Nehemiah’s leadership challenge was to insure the laws were not just words in a few books stored in the temple but a living code of conduct applied in daily life.