Summary: If we want to do God’s work in God’s way, we won’t have any parade leaders. We will only have real, committed leaders who are burdened by God, are committed to the Great Commission and are not distracted by discouragement or opposition. We will only have
Leadership is a tricky thing, isn’t it? Leadership is one of those things that is hard to define and quantify. Sometimes good leadership isn’t recognized when it is present, but it sure is easy to see when it’s not there. One thing about leadership—we all want it. The problem is, we want it to come from somewhere else. We look to someone else to provide leadership in areas that maybe the Lord has called us to lead. Here’s the problem with that. When we look for that kind of leadership, we open ourselves up to what I call “parade leaders.” Parade leaders are the ones who like to be out in front for the show. James McGregor Burns talked about “parade leaders” when he wrote, “Many acts heralded or bemoaned as instances of leadership—acts of oratory, manipulation, sheer self-advancement, brute coercion—are not such. Much of what commonly passes as leadership—conspicuous position-taking without followers or follow-through, posturing on various public stages, manipulation without general purpose, authoritarianism—is no more leadership than the behavior of small boys marching in front of a parade, who continue to strut along Main Street after the procession has turned down a side street toward the fairgrounds.” But the sad thing is, we like parade leaders. We like leaders who are self-promoting. We like leaders who will puff themselves up in front of the parade and coerce and manipulate people. And why is that? Because when we’re around those kinds of leaders, it’s all on them. It’s all on them and we don’t have to do the leading that God has called us to do. It’s a whole lot easier to follow somebody else’s parade than step out in leadership for the burden that God has called us to do. But that’s not what we’re called to do. That might be the way things work in the corporate world—but that’s not how the church is supposed to work. Because God’s design for leadership doesn’t involve parade leaders. God’s design for leadership starts with His mission. Then He burdens leaders amongst His people with different tasks that will help to accomplish that mission. Then He sends prophets and preachers to teach and exhort and encourage the church and the leaders in the church in accomplishing that mission. God burdened Zerubbabel and Jeshua with rebuilding the temple. When they started to slack off, He sent the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to preach to them and remind them of their mission. Then later on, God did the same thing with Nehemiah. He burdened Nehemiah to rebuild the wall. Then we’ll see later on in chapter 8 that Ezra was there to preach to them and remind them of their mission. The point is that God’s design for leadership begins and ends with His mission. His mission—not somebody’s personal parade. The Lord is laying burdens on hearts in this church. Some are stepping out in leadership to accomplish those burdens. We have no parade leaders here and if we want to do God’s work in God’s way, we won’t have any parade leaders. We will only have real, committed leaders. Leaders who are burdened by God. Leaders who are committed to the mission of the Great Commission. Leaders who are not distracted by discouragement or opposition. Leaders who are fully committed. But we speak of commitment a lot without really understanding what it means. In this passage, Nehemiah gives us a wonderful example of what a committed leader looks like. When we look at the verses before us, we can see that there are four commitments of a godly leader.