The Tender Heart of a Tough Leader
Bro. Rodney A. Fry
How do we respond to bad news?
The phone call late at night? The conference with your child’s teacher? The meeting with the Lawyer The report from the Medical lab? None of us are immune to bad news; the secret is in the way we learn to respond to it, and that’s where today’s text can help us.
Divided Kingdom, Evil rulers, prophets warnings, 722 BC Assyrians raid Israel (North), 605 Nebby invades Judah (south) as prophesied by Isaiah – Story told in Daniel
586 Babylon (Nebby) come back Jerusalem - Ezekiel
539 Cyrus defeats Babylon and begins repatriation. Temple is rebuilt under Ezra.
As Nehemiah was tending to his business in the citadel of Susa (probably the winter residence of the Babylonian kings) his brother and some other men from Judah came with news. Nehemiah asked for a report concerning the Jews in Jerusalem and the news was not good. The remnant of Jews in Jerusalem was in great distress. The walls of Jerusalem were broken down its six gates burned with fire. The people were vulnerable and demoralized, and there seemed to be no one to lead them. Nehemiah’s reaction is described in detail. He sat down and bitterly wept. He mourned for days (Compare Ezra 10:1)
He was brokenhearted, crushed, shocked, and heavy hearted. That the bad news broke his heart reveals something of his faithfulness, something of his devout nature as a God-fearing Jew. The heart of this tough leader suggest a mature and confident relationship with God that had developed over the years. Nehemiah’s prayer is one of the most revealing in Scripture. It isn’t just well-written composition or a polished piece of religious verse. It is the result of days of fasting and prayer, Nehemiah didn’t just regret the circumstance, and He compared the broken walls of Jerusalem with the great and awesome God. Notice how he addressed God: Lord God of Heaven, O Great and Awesome God, You who keep your covenant and mercy… Nehemiah reflected on God’s character knowing that God loves to be loyal to His covenant and His people.
Nehemiah then confessed Israel’s sins and his own. Nehemiah proceeded to ask God to remember His own word, Quotes from Deuteronomy 9:29. He ended his prayer by asking God for success and compassion. The chapter ends and the next one begins with a note about Nehemiah’s position, which was similar to that described in Genesis 40:2 referring to a butler or to a high official in the royal house. Most likely the importance of this is seen in Nehemiah’s frequent access to the king. He was a man of influence in a key place at the right time. What lesson can we learn here about dealing with bad news?
I. Tough Leaders are Servants
The word servant and savants occur 7 times in Chapter 1
Our World applauds the proud the successful, the out in front the get r done individual.
I’m not knocking confident leadership; I’m just pointing out how Nehemiah’s example is different.
Jesus spoke of the servant-role of leaders in Matthew 20:20-28
And it reminds us that God’s Leaders are not so very concerned about getting themselves out of messes, building their own empires or enhancing their own reputations. Their concern is for the welfare of God’s people and for His Kingdom.
I am excited about the position(s) that you have taken in our church. You will truly make a Kingdom Difference here at First Baptist Church Lead Hill. True leadership begins with a servant’s heart.
Leadership in the kingdom of God is Different from leadership in the world. Kingdom leaders are people who lead like Jesus. They are servant leaders because they follow Jesus, who “did not come to be served, but to serve” Mark 10:45. I want to challenge and encourage you to become a Servant Leader.
Seven principles of a Servant Leader
1. Servant leaders humble themselves and wait for God to exalt them.
2. Servant leaders follow Jesus rather than seek a position
Mark 10: 32-40
3. Servant Leaders can give up personal rights to find greatness in service to others.
Mark 10: 41-45
4. Servant Leaders can risk serving others because they trust that God is in control of their lives.
5. Servant leaders take up Jesus’ towel of servant hood to meet the needs of others.
John13: 4 – 11
6. Servant leaders share their responsibility and authority with others to meet a greater need.
Acts 6: 1 – 6
7. Servant leaders multiply their leadership by empowering others to lead.
Exodus 18: 17 – 23
If there is any thing that I can do to serve you as pastor, please do not hastate to call or come by.
II. Tough Leaders Acknowledge Their Own Sins (vv. 6-7)
When disaster strikes, the heart of a tough leader in tenderized to know his own sins. Nehemiah didn’t exempt himself from responsibility, but wept over his own sin and made sure his heart was clean. We can’t deal with bad news as spiritual individual until we have place our own hearts under the blood of Christ (I John 1:19)
III. Tough Leaders know a Prayer is Not a Substitute for Action.
“We can’t do more than pray before we have prayed, but we can do more than pray after we have prayed” Nehemiah’s great prayer in Chapter 1 was a holy prelude to the practical steps he was to take in subsequent chapters.
IV. Tough Leaders Maximize Their God and Minimize their Position.
Nehemiah didn’t compare himself with the task; he compared the task with God’s awesome power, presence, promises, provisions and providence.
Many of us grossly underestimate how God can use us, but often we don our best for Him in the face of bad news. Take upon yourself the mind of a servant, confess your sins to God, ask him what steps He would have you take in the light of the problem you’re facing, then minimize your own position and maximize your great and awesome God.