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:

Praying For Muslims (book review)

During 2017 I wanted to spend more time in prayer for our Muslim friends around the world, that they would accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. My prayer guide every Friday afternoon this year has been Praying For Muslims by Sobhi Malek.

This book has opened my eyes and ears, and softened my heart, for Muslims. Each Friday I read a short, informative devotional that gives me greater insight into the Islamic community, and then I use the included prayer as a way to ask God to shine the light of His Son Jesus into dark places around the globe.

Sobhi Malek reminds us:

“This warfare is not against people of any religion or affiliation. Christ, who died for all human beings, instructed us to love our neighbors. Rather, this war is against the evil powers which control people and hinder them from seeing the light of the Gospel of Christ (Ephesians 6:12). In other words, we are warring against satan who ‘has blinded the minds of unbelievers.’ His goal is to keep people from seeing ‘the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). When we pray and ask others to pray, this does not mean that we feel superior. We do not think we are better than Muslims or any other people.  Rather, we believe we are fallen human beings like all others, but we have been saved by God’s grace.”

I urge Christians everywhere to get a copy of this book and join other prayer warriors around the world in this concerted effort to see a revival breakout in Muslim strongholds.

15 Quotes From “Run Today’s Race”

Oswald Chambers mastered the art of stimulating deep thinking and introspection with just a few short statements. Run Today’s Race is designed to be read each day for a full year. Trust me, the short seed thoughts you read each morning will keep you thinking all day long. Check out my full book review by clicking here.

“It is a great moment when we realize we have the power to trample on certain moods, a tremendous emancipation to get rid of every kind of self-consciousness and heed only one thing: the relationship between God and myself.”

“It is easy to turn our religious life into a cathedral for beautiful memories, but there are feet to be washed, hard flints to be walked over, people to be fed. Very few of us go there, but that is the way the Son of God went.”

“Prayer with most of us is turned into pious platitude, it is a matter of emotion, mystical communion with God. It is no use praying unless we are living as children of God. Then Jesus says—‘Every one that asketh receiveth.’”

“There is only one purpose for your life, and that is the satisfaction of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“If there is the tiniest grudge in your mind against any one, from that second, your spiritual penetration into the knowledge of God stops.”

“We have judged our fellow men as sinners. If God should judge us like that we would be in hell. God judges us through the marvelous Atonement of Jesus Christ.”

“God delights to put me in a place where He can make me wealthy. ‘Follow Me, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.’”

“The more complicated the actual conditions are, the more delightfully joyful it is to see God open up His way through.”

“When we try to reserve our strength it works out in weariness. Spend to the hilt all we have got and God’s recreating power is greater than all the expended power.”

“My personal life may be crowded with small, petty incidents altogether unnoticeable and mean [commonplace], but if I obey Jesus Christ in the haphazard circumstances, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God and when I stand and face to face with God I shall discover that through my obedience thousands were blessed.”

“Whenever the insistence is on the point that God answers prayer, we are off the track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer.”

“One of the most amazing revelations of God comes when we learn that it is in the commonplace things that the Deity of Jesus Christ is realized.”

“As long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, I am his debtor until he does. The mainspring of [the Apostle] Paul’s service is not love for men but love for Jesus Christ.”

“As long as the devil can keep us terrified of thinking, he will always limit the work of God in our souls.”

“By prayer and Bible reading and meditation, the drab life (drab externally) has glorious holiday hours with God in which the soul is restored even in the valley of deep darkness.” 

More quotes coming soon, so stay tuned.

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:

Godly Leaders Must Do Hard Things

“Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it” (Ezra 10:4).

Leaders have to do hard things. The responsibility is theirs, and the team is imploring their leader to take the responsibility to lead!

Ezra had to deal with a difficult issue. The issue was intermarriage between the Israelites and pagan nations. To complicate matters, Ezra discovered that “the hand of the leaders and rulers had been foremost in this trespass” (Ezra 9:2). I would guess these leaders had committed the sin of commission (intermarrying themselves or allowing their children to do so), and of omission (not speaking out against trespassers).

But those “who trembled at the words of the God of Israel” were greatly grieved at this national sin (v. 4).

Ezra’s first response was a good one: he fasted and prayed, confessing the sins of the people and identifying himself with them (notice the use of “we” in his prayer). Ezra knew there was a window of opportunity for revival that was about to close, so he must act quickly (vv. 5-15).

Prayer is a great start, but after prayer there must be action: “Arise … and do it”!

I am sure looking transgressors in the eye—especially those who were leading men and women in the community—and calling out their sin wasn’t an easy thing nor a pleasant thing for Ezra to do, but it had to be done.

A mark of a godly leader is one who does the hard good things that must be done.

Ezra doing the hard good thing opened the door for God’s blessing to fall on the people. This is still true for godly leaders today.

My prayer—Lord, strengthen me to “arise and do it” when the hard good things must be done.

Godly Leaders Raise Up Godly Leaders

“…as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me…I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me” (Ezra 7:28).

A mark of a godly leader is one who raises up other godly leaders. He doesn’t want to walk alone; he doesn’t want to keep God’s blessings to himself. He knows that there can never be too many God-fearing leaders.

How did Ezra raise up more godly leaders?

  1. Ezra made sure his team had everyone it needed to be successful. When he discovered his team had no Levites to oversee functions in the temple, he made an appeal for a Levite to join his team. “Then, by the good hand of our God upon us” God sent Ezra nearly 250 Levites (Ezra 8:18-20)!
  2. Ezra made sure his team would be adequately cared for. He prayed and fasted as he asked for God’s direction and protection for his team (vv. 21-23).
  3. Ezra trusted his teammates. He entrusted them with precious, irreplaceable treasures (vv. 24-34).

What Ezra did became contagious. The leading men that came to follow Ezra all brought other potential leaders with them as well.

Godly leaders are never content arriving at their destination alone—they want as many other godly leaders alongside them as possible.

My prayer—God, place Your good hand on me to empower me to raise up godly leaders.

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