EIGHT ELEMENTS FOR A SUCCESSFUL LEADER
Date: January 10
"And they said, Let us rise up and build! So they strengthened their hands for the good work."
This particular teaching isn't just focused on one verse. Instead, I will go through several verses in the Book of Nehemiah teaching on the elements of successful leadership. There are eight steps laid out in the Book of Nehemiah as to how we can have successful leadership.
The first step is found in chapter 2, verse 12. There we read, "…And I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem." So in order to have successful leadership, we have to start with an individual – an individual whom God has spoken to, an individual who listens to God. So when God speaks to you, your heart should be convicted to do what He has instructed. That's the first step to successful leadership.
The second step is persuading people to join you. You need to have a host – tens and hundreds of other people helping you achieve what God has told you to do. This takes us back to chapter 2, verse 18. Before anyone can join you, they have to see that God is with you. They will not join you just because you're smart even though that's important. They will not join you just because you're strong even though that's important as well. They will join you because they believe that God is with you in what you are doing. When they see God's hand upon you, then they will be persuaded to join you.
The third step is found in chapter 2, verse 20. It says, "I answered them, The God of heaven will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build…" Now that you know God has called you to do something and others are in agreement with you, you have to arise and build. Meaning, you have to take a course of action. In order to get from point A to point B, you need to take some steps forward; you need to put forth some action. Start doing what you need to do to accomplish the task at hand.
The fourth aspect of successful leadership is to avoid pride. Don't be too proud to join the work of God. In chapter 3, verse 5, we read that the leaders of Israel were too proud to work on the wall that Nehemiah was building. So they didn't join. Don't think that you're too good to put your hands to the plow. You will never achieve a task unless you do something towards achieving it. A successful leader is never prideful.
The fifth aspect of successful leadership is found in chapter 3, verse 20. It says, "After him Baruch son of Zabbai (Zaccai) earnestly repaired another portion [toward the hill] from the angular turning of the wall to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest." This verse shows that they were especially diligent as they were building the wall. Not only do you need to do the work at hand, but you also need to do it with diligence. You have to do all that is necessary to achieve your goal and do it with excellence putting forth your very best effort.
The sixth step is ignoring the opposition. Chapter 3, verse 28 shows that there was great opposition. Because there was such great opposition, they were praying. When they did that, they no longer paid attention to the opposition. They paid attention to the work they were supposed to do. Others were threatening them and discouraging them. But they knew that God called them to build this wall. So, they were going to finish it regardless of what the opposition was saying. They pressed on diligently.
The seventh step us found in verse 13 of chapter 4. "So I set armed men behind the wall in places where it was least protected; I even thus used the people as families with their swords, spears, and bows." So the seventh step is putting up a defense. Because there was an opposition, these people not only continued to work, but they armed some of their workers with weapons. They were defending this work of God against the opposition. They weren't going to allow others to destroy them or their work. So in one hand they held a weapon and in the other hand, they worked. It may have slowed them down a little, but they continued. Nehemiah said in verse 14, "Do not be afraid of the enemy; [earnestly] remember the Lord and imprint Him [on your minds], great and terrible, and [take from Him courage to] fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes." So regardless of what your enemies may be, you are to defend yourself and not allow them to defeat you.
The eighth point to learn is that success comes as a divine assistance. This is found in chapter 6, verse 15 and 16. It says there, "So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us feared and fell far in their own esteem, for they saw that this work was done by our God." Once you finish the work God called you to do, others will see that God has been with you the entire time. When you succeed, people will take notice of you because God was the One who divinely enabled you to succeed.
So those are the eight points to remember in successful leadership. First, you have to know that God has called you. You have to hear the voice of the Lord instructing you to do something. Secondly, you need to persuade other people to join the work. Thirdly, you have to move into action. Put your hands to work and do what is required to achieve your goal. Then you are to stay humble and not be too proud to do the work. Humble yourself and do what God has called you to do. After that, you have to work diligently. Then you are to work with all your might and you will succeed in spite of the opposition. Following that, you are to defend yourself when attacks come. That doesn't necessarily mean to come against other people, but to not allow them to come against you. If others attack you, be ready to defend yourself. Lastly, you will succeed and see that the reason you succeeded was because God was with you. God is the One who ultimately gives you success in what you do. Nehemiah is an example of that. He was a man of success because he did all that God instructed him to do. From Nehemiah's example, we too can learn what is required for successful leadership.