Last week I said that we were going to look at the book of Nehemiah for some basic leadership skills. Today we will look at Nehemiah 1:1-11 where we find the kind of people that God chooses to lead His people. That being said… What was it about Nehemiah that made him the kind of person God would choose? The first chapter of Nehemiah shows us four characteristics that God uses for criteria. First of all…
God Chooses People He Can Trust
At the end of verse 11 we read “I was a cupbearer to the king.” (Nehemiah 1:11) What on earth does being a cupbearer have to do with being a leader? The title may not sound impressive _ it sounds like being a dishwasher but it was much more than that. The cupbearer was the one who tasted the king’s wine and food before he partook. He did that so that if someone tried to poison the king, it would be the cupbearer that died instead of the king. Needless to say a strong friendship often developed between the king and his cupbearer.
When God chooses someone to do a job for Him that is the kind of person He looks for. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that when the big opportunity comes up we’ll jump in and serve God with all we’ve got. However if we can’t be trusted to do little things with a spirit of humility and excellence, we may never get the chance to do the big thing.
God looks for people He can trust. God knew He could trust Nehemiah to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem because Nehemiah was a loyal slave. Jesus put it this way…”…you have been faithful in with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.“ (Matthew 25:23)
God Chooses People That Show Compassion
“Hanani told Nehemiah, ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.’ When I heard these things, I sat down and wept.” (Nehemiah 1:3-4)
Nehemiah was genuinely moved by what he heard. Jerusalem, the once great and beautiful city of God was now in shambles, and that grieved Nehemiah. He felt the pain of his countrymen and was willing to step in and do something about it regardless of personal cost or danger he may face.
If your heart is not moved with compassion over the needs of other people, you’re simply not leadership material. But, if seeing what needs to be done compels you to get involved, then you have what it takes to be chosen by God.
God Chooses People Committed To Prayer
Before Nehemiah did anything about rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem, he made it a matter or prayer… “…for some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven…” (Nehemiah 1:4) Nehemiah was serious about his prayer life. He not only devoted a great deal of time to prayer, but he prayed the right way! His prayer seen in verses 5-11 has all the right fundamentals…
- Adoration. (v. 5) He begins by acknowledging how great and powerful God is. He acknowledges God’s goodness and faithfulness. He “puts God in His place” so to speak as ruler of all creation.
- Confession. (v. 6-7) He confessed his own sin and the sin of his nation. He acknowledged that because of Israel’s sin, horrible things had come about.
- Intercession. (v. 8-10) He prayed on behalf of God’s people, the Israelites.
- Petition. (v. 11) He asked God to help him do what he, God’s humble servant, wanted to do.
Throughout Scripture we find problems when people failed to call on the name of the LORD before planning and doing things. On the other hand we find great success when people did call on the name of the LORD and then followed the instructions that God had given.
In John 14:14 Jesus gave this promise… “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Any leader worth his weight in salt always asks the LORD before proceeding with anything. And by the way in the verse previous to Jesus’ promise it gives proper motivation for asking and it’s not so we can get something we want _ it is so that we “may bring glory to the Father.” (John 14:13)
God Chooses People That Are Ready to Serve
In verse 11 we read “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” (“This man” refers to king Artaxerxes, the new king of Babylon, whom Nehemiah served as cupbearer.)
I like Nehemiah’s reaction to the situation. He doesn’t say, “What can I do? I’m just one person. I live so far away. Somebody else will have to handle it. “No,” he said, “Something has to be done–and I will do it!” He was ready to take action.
God chooses people that are ready to take action _ people that are willing to get things done to lead. People that respond like Isaiah… “I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I Lord, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)
Like I said last week, “There is no shortage of things to be done _ there is a shortage of those willing to actually do things that need to be done. One reason for that is that both serving God and serving people comes with the price tag of commitment. To be committed you must be trustworthy _ compassionate _ quick to pray _ ready to work.
If you first have a desire to serve God, there may a place for you to lead people.