A Leader’s Most Powerful Resource

…Sanballat…mocked the Jews… (Nehemiah 4:1).

Sanballat mocked. How did Nehemiah respond to the mocking? He told Sanballat, “                .” Absolutely nothing!

At least he said nothing to Sanballat. But to God Nehemiah prayed, “Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads” (v. 4).

Once again the bad guys “conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion” (v. 8). And once again Nehemiah said nothing to the conspirators; “nevertheless we made our prayer to our God” (v. 9).

When the gossip and rumors about the conspirators begin to discourage the Israelites, Nehemiah redirected them back to God: “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome” (v. 14).

Even when the opposition was internal—with those who were looking out for themselves only and taking advantage of their brothers—Nehemiah again called them to look to God: “Should you not walk in the fear of our God?” (5:9).

Indeed, because of Nehemiah’s own example of the fear of the Lord, he had the moral authority to call them out, and to ask God for His blessing (vv. 14-19).

Whatever criticism or opposition Nehemiah faced, his first response was to turn to God.

A mark of a godly leader is one whose first response to problems is prayer.

This is part 6 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out the previous posts here:

Godly Leaders Can Inspire Everyone To Pursue One Vision

And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also all of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to this good work. (Nehemiah 2:18)

The market of a godly leader is one who can inspire all sorts of people to pursue the same vision.

Nehemiah did such a good job casting the vision God had given him that people from all professions and persuasions immediately joined in. Although the vision was to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem, most of those who joined Nehemiah in pursuing this vision were anything but builders. They were…

  • Priests
  • Fathers and their sons
  • Fathers and their daughters
  • Natural-born Israelites
  • God-fearing foreigners
  • Goldsmiths
  • Perfume makers
  • Leaders
  • Laypeople
  • Those living within the city
  • Those who lived outside the city
  • Merchants

With one voice they cried out, “Let’s rise up and build!” and they got down to business.

All these different people buying-in to one godly leader’s vision!

This is part 5 in my series on godly leadership. Be sure to check out the previous posts to see some of the factors that enabled Nehemiah to cast such a compelling, unifying vision:

Godly Leaders Prayerfully Plan

“… I pray…grant me mercy in the sight of this man [King Artaxerxes]…” (Nehemiah 1:11).

Nehemiah prayed this in the month of Chislev. Four months later—in the month of Nisan—we read Nehemiah’s words, “So I prayed to the God of heaven” (2:4).

It took four months before God began to answer Nehemiah’s prayer, but he definitely wasn’t idle during this time!

During these four months, Nehemiah did more than pray; he planned. In Nisan, the king asked Nehemiah why he seemed heartsick.

“This is nothing but sorrow of heart,” said the king. “What’s bothering you, Nehemiah?”

“My hometown is in ruins,” replied Nehemiah.

Then the king asked, “What would you like to do?”

“So I prayed to the God of heaven. And then I said to the king…” (vv. 2-5).

Nehemiah’s request to King Artaxerxes was very specific.

  • He told the king how long he would be gone
  • He told him the building supplies he would need
  • He requested a letter from the king granting him safe passage
  • He requested another letter authorizing him to have access to the forest for lumber

“And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me” (v. 8). Not only that, but the King gave Nehemiah an armed escort back to Jerusalem!

Nehemiah prayed and planned, allowing God to determine the perfect timing. Nehemiah didn’t just pray and wait; he worked while he waited.

A mark of a godly leader is one who prayerfully plans his strategy.

My prayer—May all my plans be made with prayer to You for guidance. You know the best plans and the perfect timing, so I will pray and plan; plan and pray.

This is part 4 in my series on godly leadership. Be sure to check out:

A Godly Leader’s “We”

When Nehemiah heard about the devastation in Jerusalem, the first thing he did was a very good thing: “I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4).

An important mark of a godly leader is one who exchanges “you” and “me” for “we.”

Godly leaders identify themselves with their people; they don’t think of themselves more highly nor look down on others.

Nehemiah said in his prayer, “BOTH my father’s house and I have sinned. WE have acted corruptly against You” (vv. 6, 7). Given the fact that this is 70 years after Judah went into captivity, it is doubtful that Nehemiah was captured in Jerusalem, but he was probably born in exile. Yet he said WE sinned against God.

He also asks God to “be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, AND to the prayer of Your servantS” (v. 11). Once again Nehemiah identifies himself with all the people by not claiming that his prayer carries any more weight than anyone else’s prayer. Every prayer, in Nehemiah’s mind, was equally as pleasant to God’s ears.

My prayer—Help me to be a “we” leader.

This is part 3 in my series on godly leadership. Be sure to check out:

8 Quotes Worth Studying From “Proverbs”

ProverbsIn my review of Proverbs by Charles Bridges (which you can read by clicking here), I noted how he weaved the principles in the biblical book of Proverbs into the teaching that occurs throughout the Scripture. In others words, he showed that the wisdom in Proverbs wasn’t just a “stand-alone” wisdom, but integrated into the whole.

In the quotes I’m sharing today, I trust you will get a glimpse of what I mean. The reference in brackets before the quote indicate the Proverb to which Bridges is commenting. I have also linked all of the Scripture references to my friends at Bible Gateway, so you can look them up easily (and I encourage you to do so!).

[Proverbs 1:10-16] “If the temptation prevail, charge it not on God; no—nor on the devil. As the worst he can do, he can only tempt, he cannot force us, to sin. When he has plied us with his utmost power, and most subtle artifice, it is at the choice of our own will, whether we yield or no (see James 1:13-15). The habitual resistance of the will clears us of responsibility (cp. Romans 7:14-17, 19-20, 23). The consent, even if it be not carried out into the act, lays the responsibility at our own door.”

[Proverbs 2:10-11] “The forsaken sin only makes way for some more plausible, but not less deadly passion. The heart, cast into the mold of the Gospel, is the only cover from those snares within and without (Romans 6:17, 18; 2 Corinthians 3:18), which so imperceptibly, yet so fatally, estrange us from God. Never, till the vital principle is implanted, is their mischief discerned. Never, till then, does the heart find its proper object, its true resting-place.”

[Proverbs 3:5-6] “Take one step at a time, every step under Divine warrant and direction (cp. Ezekiel 18:21-23; Nehemiah 1:11). Ever plan for yourself in simple dependence on God. It is nothing less than self-idolatry to conceive that we can carry on even the ordinary matters of the day without His counsel. He loves to be consulted. Therefore, take all thy difficulties to be resolved by Him. Be in the habit of going to Him in the first place—before self-will, self-pleasing, self-wisdom, human friends, convenience, expediency. Before any of these have been consulted, go to God at once. Consider no circumstances too clear to need His direction. In all thy ways, small as well as great; in all thy concerns, personal or relative, temporal or eternal, let Him be supreme.”

[Proverbs 3:11-12] “Faith understands the reasons of the discipline (1 Peter 1:6, 7); acknowledges it as a part of His gracious providence (Deuteronomy 8:2, 15, 16), and the provision of His everlasting covenant (Psalm 89:30-32); waits to see the end of the Lord (James 5:11); and meanwhile draws its main support from the seal of adoption.”

[Proverbs 4:14-17] “To pray not to be led into temptation; yet not to watch, that we enter not into it (Matthew 6:13; 26:41)—is practically to contradict our prayers; to mock our God, by asking for what we do not heartily wish.”

[Proverbs 11:18-19] “Righteousness is the seed; happiness is the harvest. The reward indeed is not from cause, but of consequence; not of debt, but of grace depending upon a free promise; mercifully yet surely linked with Christian perseverance (Ecclesiastes 11:6; Hosea 10:12; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:7, 8).”

[Proverbs 17:22] “If then, Christian, you believe the Gospel to be ‘glad tidings’ (Luke 1:19; 8:1), show that you believe it, by lighting up your face with a smile.”

[Proverbs 28:13] “The love of sin struggles with the power of conscience. The door of access to God is barred (Psalm 66:18). Christian confidence is clouded (Psalm 32:3, 4); and, unless Sovereign mercy interpose, it must end in the sting of ‘the never-dying worm’ (Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:44-48). The covering of the disease precludes the possibility of the cure. Only the penitent confessor can be the pardoned sinner.”

“The best work on the Proverbs. While explaining the passage in hand, he sets other portions of the Word in new lights.” —C.H. Spurgeon, commenting on this book

What To Do When You’re Burning Mad

Angry“Speak when you are angry, and you will make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” ―Laurence J. Peter

Of course we all get angry. If we let it out we might burn up the people around us, but if we hold it in we might blow up inside. What are we to do when we’re burning mad?

Nehemiah was in the midst of a massive building program, with enemies of Israel threatening to attack at any moment, and then people start coming to him with reports of the ungodly lifestyle among some of Israel’s leading families.

To say Nehemiah was hot is an understatement (Nehemiah 5:6). The Hebrew word means boiling mad, scorching hot! We would do very well to notice how he handled this situation.

First, “I pondered these accusations in my mind…” (v. 7a). He didn’t fire off the first thoughts that came to mind.

Second, “…then I accused the nobles and officials. I told them, ‘You are loan-sharking your own countrymen’” (v. 7b). He made a very specific point without elaborating on all the gory details.

Third, he gave them an opportunity to respond (v. 8).

Fourth, he called them all together and said, “What you’re doing isn’t right. You are not following God’s ways, and you are giving God a bad reputation to those outside our community” (v. 9).

Fifth, he used his personal lifestyle as an example (v. 10).

Finally, he asked them to change their behavior (v. 11).

Pretty simple:

  • Wait
  • Think
  • Make the accusation simple
  • Give them a chance to respond
  • Hold them to a high standard
  • Live out the standard yourself
  • Ask for a change of behavior

The next time you’re burning mad, try this and see what happens.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Just as God saved man by taking upon Himself man’s flesh, so everywhere in the world He calls men by speaking to them through men of their own flesh and blood. God incarnates Himself—in His Spirit, incarnates Himself in the chosen men, especially in His church, in which He dwells as in a temple; and then through that church He is pleased to bless the world.” —Charles Spurgeon

J. Warner Wallace does an excellent job using his skills as a police detective to investigate the claims of Scripture. Here is a really good post entitled 4 Reasons The New Testament Gospels Are Reliable.

“Most Christians know we’re not saved by our works, but we are often prone to be satisfied by them,” writes Marshall Segal in his post Work With Your Hands, Not With Your Worship. Check out how we can worship and work in a God-glorifying way.

I grew up in the Detroit area, so the Tigers, Lions, Red Wings and Pistons were―and mostly still are (except for the Lie-downs)―my teams. Here’s a really cool post on how these teams got their names.

This phone call from a Planned Parenthood employee reveals the dishonesty this abortion provider is steeped in.

“Forgiving a financial debt costs your balance sheet. Forgiving an owed apology frees you to be generous again.” —Seth Godin

“Prayer and humility, along with a hatred for sin, produces a ‘mind to work.’ ‘So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work’ (Nehemiah 4:6). True revivals of holiness always produce workers. Books and seminars and lectures don’t—but revival does!” —David Wilkerson

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