Summary: The example of Nehemiah gives to us a solid picture of good leadership and the way it should be in the family of God. A Book sermon, 2nd in a series.
Intro: Audience participation time this morning. I’ll call out the event or thing, you call out the name of someone associated with it.
• Model A automobiles (Henry Ford)
• The American Revolution (Washington, Benjamin Franklin, et al)
• Mickey Mouse – Walt Disney
• The incandescent light bulb – Thomas Edison
• World War 2 (Hitler, Churchill)
• Crayola Crayons - Edward Binney & Harold Smith – not as many got that one!
Behind most significant events of human history there has been a person or persons – leaders. It doesn’t always matter where they came from, or what they looked like. What matters is that there was someone or some people who influenced people around them to some desired end. That’s one of the simplest definitions of a leader – someone who influences others.
Remember, we’re looking at the book of Nehemiah and talking about what to do when life gets BIG. That matters to all of us, because life gets that way for all of us. It’s that way in our personal worlds, and it’s that way in the Church. One of the ways we deal with life getting big is to have big leaders.
That’s one reason we have this book to read today. Nehemiah was a big leader. He influenced people – the king of Persia, the enemies of the Jews, and most important, the Jewish people themselves. This is a hugely practical book. There are great lessons for leaders in Nehemiah:
• How to deal with a touchy boss
• Balance between faith and planning
• Handling executive discouragement
• What to do about underserved criticism
So, if you’re a leader, a study of this book longer than we can do here today would be a help to you. If you’re a leader in the church, it can help you to be more effective at that good work. If you’re a leader at your workplace, it can help you there. But more importantly, it you’re simply going to be a person who influences others, it will help you do that more effectively.
As I read through the commands in the NT, I come across orders like this:
Teach, admonish, give an answer, plead, encourage, instruct, let you light shine, spur -
Those are leadership words, and we’re all commanded to do them. They’re all about influencing people – leading. So, paying attention to the need for BIG leaders isn’t just a message for elders or Sunday School teachers. It’s something that involves every follower of Jesus. When you sign on to be a part of this great family of believers, you accept the responsibility to be an influencer of people around you. That’s leadership, whether you wear a title or not.
Seriously, when Jesus said “Go and make disciples of all nations,” did that include you or not? When he said baptize and teach them, was He talking about being people who influence people or not?
That means I should have an interest in what it means to be a good leader, amen? Or have we somehow written off “leading someone to Christ” as someone else’s job?
Hopefully, by this point, you’re saying, “OK, I understand! Being a follower of Jesus means being a leader of sorts. What does Nehemiah have to show us about being good at this? How can I be a BIG leader for the Lord?” I’m glad you asked that! Here are just a few points!
I. Have Big Hearts
A good leader has to have more than just a big mouth! He has to do more than have just a big front! It has to come from a big heart.
Ill - There’s a lady in Joplin who has been teaching Jr. High Sunday school for over 30 years; Dorothy. She’s too old to teach Jr. High kids. She’s way too old to relate to kids who are just teenagers. She’s pretty strict and doesn’t put up with any nonsense in her class. But you know what every one of her students says about Dorothy? “She’s cool!” Dorothy is cool. It’s not because of the way she dresses. They don’t love her because she acts like a kid. The reason Dorothy Meyer is so cool to those Jr. High boys and girls is because she loves them and they know it. She has a big heart, and they thrive on that. Dorothy’s a big leader.
You can tell a leader with a big heart. For one thing, they…
They’re tuned in to what’s going on around them. Nehemiah was a leader who paid attention to the situation. It’s only one example of several, but look with me at…
Nehemiah 4:14 (NIV)
After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."