Summary: The first of six marks of leadership is his concern for God’s work as seen in Nehemiah 1:1-4.
Mark Dever promotes Four Aspects of Leadership in Nine Marks of a Healthy Church with the acrostic BOSS.
B=Boss. The leader “reproves, rebukes, and exhorts with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
There is a delicate balance in local churches between pastoral authority (Hebrews 13) and congregational authority (Matthew 18). The pastors must exercise his authority to preach and lead in order for the congregation to fulfill its authority of approving correct doctrine and rejecting false doctrine (Galatians 1:9).
O=Out Front. Dever talks about one of the most feared generals in WWII. That general was the German tank commander Rommel, the ‘Desert Fox.’ When a battle involving his forces would begin, the word would go out, “Rommel in the lead.’ That message galvanized the troops of follow. Good leaders take the initiative.
S=Supply. Leaders supply or equip their followers to become leaders as Paul practiced in 2 Timothy 2:2.
S=Serve the Lord. Christ came not to be served but to serve. Servant leadership is described in 1 Peter 5:1-4. The leader gives away every ministry possible to others so he can focus on what God has equipped him to best do, serve his people by serving them God’s Word (Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, page 236).
Nehemiah was the BOSS when
1. He showed concern for God’s Work (Nehemiah 1:1-4)
2. He prayed for God’s people (Nehemiah 1:5-11)
3. He followed his leader (Nehemiah 1:11-2:8)
4. He motivates his followers (Nehemiah 2:9-20)
5. He organizes the work (Nehemiah 3:1-32)
6. He handles opposition (Nehemiah 4-6)
What is the Context for Nehemiah’s Leadership?
Under King Solomon the Nation of Israel divided (1 Kings 11:11). The Northern Tribes were taken captive in 722 BC by Assyria. Next the Southern Tribes were taken captive in 606, 507, 586 BC (2 Chronicles 36:19). God used three leaders to restore His people to the land and Himself:
1. Zerubbabel the Builder in Ezra 1-6
2. Ezra the Teacher in Ezra 7-10
3. Nehemiah the Layman in Nehemiah 1-13.
These three men were very different. God knew which leadership styles and unique gifts and talents His people needed in their leaders at different stages of their lives. G. Campbell Morgan pastored Westminster Chapel and emphasized the Gospels in his preaching. His associate, Martin Lloyd Jones, succeeded him. Jones believed that he followed Morgan because of his passion for the Epistles would compliment what Morgan had preached. Their unique ministries gave the members a more balanced diet.
What Kind of Leader was Nehemiah?
A. Nehemiah was a layman.
Nehemiah was not a preacher (priest or prophet). Nehemiah worked a secular job (1:11 “the cupbearer) for the government of Persia. The cupbearer was an important advisory position to kings (Genesis 40:9-15; 41:9-13). James Boice described this position as “Chief of Staff” (Nehemiah, page18). The White House Chief of Staff is the highest ranking member of the Executive Office of the President of the United States and a senior aide to the President. The office-holder has been dubbed “The Second-Most Powerful Person in Washington” due to the nature of the job (Wikipedia). Nehemiah weilded the same kind of influence on his superior and exert greated spiritual influence like Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon.
B. Nehemiah was not only a layman and but a volunteer.
Nehemiah took a 12 year leave of absence without pay and volunteered to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He left this soft bed in the palace in Susa, the capital of Persia, to sleep in a sleeping bag in Jerusalem.
The local church today needs lay leaders like Nehemiah who volunteer in the Lord’s work. The local church cannot nor should not hire professionals for every position in the church while the rest look on as spectators.
1. Leaders Show Concern for God’s Work (Nehemiah 1:1-4)
A. Leaders must ask the tough questions.
1) Nehemiah asked his brother who just returned from Jerusalem how his people were (1:1-2). The answers revealed that Jerusalem was both unprotected and in reproach to God.
2) We must ask, “How is our church?” How is our family?” How is our particular ministry?” “Are these ministries a reproach or a pleasure to God?
B. Leaders respond to realistic answers. The walls down meant
1) God’s people were unprotected physically (Deut 22:8) and spiritually (Isa 49:14-21). Not only could the enemies attack and conquer physically but they would also enforce their heretical views onto God’s people.
2) God’s people had no testimony (Psalm 50:2). The heathen were saying, “What kind of God can’t even keep the walls up around His city.” That is why Hanani said the people were in great reproach. Followers identify problems. Leaders solve problems. It is easy to be critical. Leaders are concerned.
C. Leaders are concerned to get involved in the solution.
1) Nehemiah was not the last to weep over Jerusalem (Mt 23:37). Believers who do not get involved in the solution are like citizens who complain about their government but never vote. They have forfeited their right to complain.