Summary: Nehemiah shows us that to be a leader, you must really become a servant leader. He gives us some keen insight and lessons of what it means to be a servant leader today.
Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s became a familiar sight to millions in his company’s television commercials. Dave also appeared in a lot of in store training films. In those, as in many of the more familiar commercials, he would dress as his workers. One year he appeared on the cover of one of the company’s annual reports dressed in a knee-length work apron holding a mop and a plastic bucket. For many years, a framed copy of that picture graced the back rooms and manager’s office of most Wendy’s. That picture was built on the fact Dave was a self-made millionaire. He didn’t finish high school. He worked his way up through the ranks of Kentucky Fried Chicken and then went off on his own to start Wendy’s. Here’s how Dave explained that picture: “I got my M.B.A. long before my G.E.D. At Wendy’s M.B.A. does not mean Master of Business Administration. It means Mop Bucket Attitude.” Dave Thomas taught all of his employees that service comes before success.
Nehemiah shows us that to be a leader, you must really become a servant leader. He gives us some keen insight and lessons of what it means to be a servant leader today.
First, we’re in this together attitude. Throughout Chapters 4 and 5, Nehemiah uses two key words in describing the events and in speaking with the people rebuilding the wall- “we” and “us”. This was never an “us” versus “them” thing. This was never about Nehemiah and what he could accomplish. This is about God’s call on Nehemiah and the people of Israel to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah is in this thing with the people from the start and will be with them through the peaks and valleys until the very end. He’s there physically, mentally and spiritually. While Nehemiah is the leader and coordinator of the rebuilding of the walls, he’s one of the people and one with the people in this task and God’s call upon their life together.
Second, servant leaders seek the well-being of others. Verses 13, 16-17, 20 He pulled half the men off the rebuilding lines and outfitted and armed them as sentries and soldiers. He then placed them at the lowest points of the wall, the exposed places. He also stationed them behind the people, in effect saying, “We got your backs.!” Not only that, he put an emergency plan in place in the event that Sanballat and his armies were going to attack. All this spoke to the men, women and children that Nehemiah wasn’t concerned just about the work of rebuilding but first and foremost about the safety and well-being of those who were on the frontlines, sacrificing and laboring to rebuild the wall of God’s Holy City. As a result, the people doubled their efforts and worked long past quitting time because they knew they were safe and that Nehemiah was more concerned about them than the completion of the wall.
Third, servant leaders make personal sacrifices for the sake of others, the mission and the organization. verse 14. "Neither I nor my brothers ate the food that was allotted to us." As governor, Nehemiah was entitled to the very best of food and wine and proportionally more than anyone else. But he realized being a servant leader is not always about receiving. It’s about giving to God’s greater purpose so that others can experience blessings. There were a lot of perks for the Governor; and his whole team could have had many great benefits, but Nehemiah chose to do things differently from the governors before him who had oppressed the people through their lavish living. Instead, he chose to make personal sacrifices for the sake of the people.