Summary: If we were going to use one word to define "leadership" it would have to be the word "influence". Someone is a leader to the extent that he or she is able to influence other people. (Powerpoints available - #315)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
TEXT: Nehemiah 1:1 4
(This is the first of a Leadership series featuring Nehemiah. Some ideas & illustrations in these messages were based on or benefited greatly from, to varying extents, the book “Hand Me Another Brick” by Charles Swindoll.)
(The Powerpoints used with this sermon are available free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request PP #315)
A. When God had work to be done, He selected special people. Special, not because they were tremendously talented, physically superior, or gifted with engaging personalities & mighty intellect but special because when God called, they answered.
They weren't perfect people by any means, but God was able to use them in a multitude of ways down through the centuries to be a blessing to the people among whom they lived, & to be witnesses of His wisdom, power, & love.
Some of their names we know very well names like Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Ruth, David, Isaiah, Daniel, Esther, Mary, Matthew, Peter, James, John, Barnabas, & Paul.
B. But there are hundreds of thousands of whom we have never heard, maybe millions, whose lives & service for God were just as vital in His sight.
I've entitled this message, "God, We Need Leaders!" We need them in our homes, our schools, our churches, & in the leadership of our nation. We need good leaders, capable leaders, dedicated leaders, Spirit filled, God honoring leaders.
Of course I’m shocked & disappointed, as I am sure you are too, by all the name-calling, distortions, dishonesty & arrogance in our government today.
ILL. A generation ago, John Holland wrote,
"God give us men. A time like this demands strong minds,
great hearts, true faith & willing hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions & a will;
Men who have honor; men who will not lie;"
And it just not men, it's women, too. We are in a crisis of leadership in every area of our nation today.
But let’s make this a bit more personal. Parents, God intended for us to be spiritual leaders, responsible for molding & shaping the lives & attitudes of our children. Because so many have not fulfilled their responsibilities we are experiencing a breakdown in our homes.
C. What is a leader? Maybe we ought to define that before we go any further. What, really, is a leader? If we were going to use one word to define "leadership" it would have to be the word "influence". Someone is a leader to the extent that he or she is able to influence other people.
ILL. Harry Truman said, "A leader is a person who can persuade others to do what they don't want to do, & convince them that they like it." So influence is the key.
Some of you in years past have read Dale Carnegie's book, "How To Win Friends & Influence People." The theme of that book is leadership how to deal with people one to one, & how to be a dynamic leader, & therefore be successful.
Many other books have also been written on the subject of leadership. Norman Vincent Peale wrote "The Power of Positive Thinking." "How do we interact with others?" "How do we get along with each other?"
But one of the most important books ever written about leadership was written in 423 B.C. by a man who rose from obscurity to national prominence & power. The book bears his name. It is the book of Nehemiah.
I. THE BOOK OF NEHEMIAH
A. So beginning this morning, & continuing on for several more weeks, I'm going to be preaching a series of sermons straight out of the book of Nehemiah. And I'm convinced that when you get to know Nehemiah you will really like him. You'll discover that his book, written so long ago, deals with subjects that are right up to date.
1. "How can I get along with my boss? He isn't a Christian. He doesn't see things the way that I see them." Nehemiah tells us how to deal with our bosses.
2. Nehemiah teaches us how to deal with discouragement. Sometimes our hopes, dreams, & plans never materialize, & he teaches us how to deal with that.
3. Nehemiah teaches us how to deal with criticism. When you are a leader, you can be sure that you will be criticized. Criticism & leadership seem to go hand in hand.
We're going to learn through Nehemiah how to deal with all these things.
II. THE BACKGROUND OF NEHEMIAH
A. But before we look at the book of Nehemiah, we need a little background.
ILL. If you didn't know anything about U.S. history & you saw the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia it wouldn't mean anything to you other than "there's a bell with a crack in it." But when you understand the price that was paid, the blood that was shed, & the joy of the people who rang that bell so enthusiastically that it cracked then it will mean something to you.