Nehemiah 2:9-20 - How To Assume A Leadership Posit

Steve Viars June 29, 1996 Nehemiah 2:9-20

- this morning, we're returning to our study of the book of Nehemiah.
- So far we have studied the:
1) Relationship of the leader to the Lord
2) Relationship of the leader to his superiors
Today, our text is going to help us think about "the relationship of the leader to those he is called upon to lead."

- These verses are a classic example of how to assume a leadership position.
- The reason thats such an important topic is because that kind of transition is constantly going on at a church at different levels of leadership.
- Probably a number of you have assumed some new leadership position at church on some level and you know that the situation Nehemiah was facing was one that believers in the church often face as well.
- If you've not been at that position yet, if you're growing in Christ you undoubtedly will as God expands your ministry for Him.
- These verses contain some great truths to help us when we're in that position...and truths that will help us in any phase of seeking to minister for Christ in his church.

READ Nehemiah 2:11-20

- Let's think about this matter of "assuming a new leadership position". 
- INPUT - What mistakes could a new leader make (or sins he would commit) that could greatly hinder the job the Lord wanted him to accomplish?

I. Good Leaders Carefully and Quietly Gather the Facts

A. Principle - Don't talk until you know what you're talking about.

Pro 18:13 He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.

INPUT - On what topics might a leader be tempted to "pontificate about" before understanding, and how might that result in foolishness and shame?

INPUT - What issues of the inner man might drive a person to speak (in a leadership context) without first knowing the facts?
B. Examples from this text.

We're saying that a good leader seeks to learn about the challenge before trying to lead others to overcome the challenge.

INPUT - What are some ways that Nehemiah exemplified this principle in a positive way?

(Not saying we should get mired down in every last detail - see Boice's example of  Robert McNamara, p. 48-49)

While this principle is always important, it was especially important for Nehemiah to follow, given the enormous challenge the Lord was calling him to undertake.

James Montgomery Boice lists three aspects of this challenge that made it especially difficult:

1) The size of the job.
Commentators differ about how large the walls of Jerusalem would have been at this time in the city's history, but even by conservative estimates, the circumference of the city was one and a half to two miles.
He goes on to say:
"Moreover, the destruction was great and the stones to be reassembled were massive. This was not a case of a group of workers merely constructing a garden fence, a brick wall, or even a large earthwork fortification. The blocks that had been tumbled down into the valleys below were of great weight, and these had to be exposed and then hauled back up to the site of the wall and reassembled. This required many workers, diverse skills, and even, we may suppose, a certain amount of lifting and moving machinery."

2) A history of defeat.
We mentioned last week that the group under Ezra had tried to rebuild the walls 14 years before. The "we've tried that before" mentality would be hard to overcome (and in some cases -- perhaps it shouldn't).

3) A discouraged group of workers.
Any of us would have been discouraged after living in these conditions for such a long period of time. The way Nehemiah conducted himself in this situation was going to be a critical part of the process.

We could also add to this list the existence of known enemies who had thwarted their work before. When you put all of this together, its evident that Nehemiah learning the facts of this situation before speaking was critical. The way he conducted himself in these first few days showed what a wise man he was.
- After Nehemiah did what we've studied in verses 11-16, it was time for him to meet with the people.  Undoubtedly his arrival had created quite a stir, and the fact that he delayed several days before speaking to the people formally would have simply added to the suspense.
- His "speech" and the people's response in the next two verses form a critical part of this story.

II. Good Leaders Challenge Others to Attempt Great Things

A. Don't Ignore the problems.

Nehemiah was very honest with these folks in verse 17.  "You see the bad situation we are in."

He would have failed miserably if he would have minimized the problem, or sugar-coated the situation they were in.

These people had lived with these conditions for a long time---they didn't need an "outsider" coming in and acting as if the challenge was going to be easy.

A more contemporary example of this characteristic was Winston Churchill.
(Read from Swindoll, p. 41 - 42.)

B. In this setting, "we" is often better than "you."

You might want to consider circling three very important words in verse 17, "we," "us," and "we."

INPUT - Why would this have been so critical at this point of the process?


INPUT - What other ways could Nehemiah have handled this part of the issue that would not have been nearly as effective?


(We're not saying here that it is always inappropriate to use "you." In preaching, "you" is often more appropriate -- see Preaching With Purpose.  But Nehemiah was not preaching in this passage.)


C. Internal motivation is often better than external.

External motivation seeks to encourage someone to take a desired action through things like money, trips, bonuses, etc.
Internal motivation uses a changed heart or mind as the primary source of encouragement.

External motivation - Come to SS because there may be a $5 bill under someone's chair.
Internal motivation - Come to SS because it will be pleasing to God as you seek to learn more about his Word.

Nehemiah's proposed motivation, according to the end of verse 17 was, "so that we will not be a reproach."
If you couple that with what we learned in chapter one, you see that this idea of being a reproach was not a personal issue as much as a theological one. The current state of the city was a poor reflection on the name of God.

Someone has defined leadership as "The act of getting people to do what they ought to do because they want to do it."

INPUT - Application to the way we seek to rear our children?

INPUT - Application to our philosophy of church ministry?


Verse 17 also records how effective this approach was, because the people responded with the wonderful words, "Let us arise and build."


Somewhere along here, we need to say that while Nehemiah was certainly functioning as a wise leader, ultimately it was the Lord who was blessing his efforts and enabling him to do right.  And Nehemiah definitely believed that, and realized it.

INPUT - What evidence is there in the text that Nehemiah was not just functioning humanistically?

 

III. Good Leaders Can Handle Opposition

Just as we've seen in the previous verses, Nehemiah's wise and godly leadership did not mean that there was not going to be opposition.

INPUT - What do you see about the way Nehemiah handled this opposition that we need to note? (see Wiersbe)  What mistakes could he have made in this situation?
6/30/96
Nehemiah #6 - Nehemiah 2:9-20 - "How To Assume A Leadership Position"
Saved as "nehem06.doc" on Nehemiah SS Disk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adult Sunday School
The Book of Nehemiah
"How To Assume A Leadership Position"
Introduction
INPUT - What mistakes could a new leader make (or sins he would commit) that could greatly hinder the job the Lord wanted him to accomplish?


I. Good Leaders Carefully and Quietly Gather the Facts


A. Principle - Don't talk until you know what you're talking about.
Pro 18:13 He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.
INPUT - On what topics might a leader be tempted to "pontificate about" before understanding, and how might that result in foolishness and shame?
INPUT - What issues of the inner man might drive a person to speak (in a leadership context) without first knowing the facts?
B. Examples from this text.
James Montgomery Boice lists three aspects of this challenge that made it especially difficult:
1) The size of the job.
"Moreover, the destruction was great and the stones to be reassembled were massive. This was not a case of a group of workers merely constructing a garden fence, a brick wall, or even a large earthwork fortification. The blocks that had been tumbled down into the valleys below were of great weight, and these had to be exposed and then hauled back up to the site of the wall and reassembled. This required many workers, diverse skills, and even, we may suppose, a certain amount of lifting and moving machinery."
2) A history of defeat.
3) A discouraged group of workers.


II. Good Leaders Challenge Others to Attempt Great Things


A. Don't Ignore the problems.
B. In this setting, "we" is often better than "you."
INPUT - What other ways could Nehemiah have handled this part of the issue that would not have been nearly as effective?
C. Internal motivation is often better than external.
Someone has defined leadership as "The act of getting people to do what they ought to do because they want to do it."
INPUT - Application to the way we seek to rear our children?
INPUT - Application to our philosophy of church ministry?
INPUT - What evidence is there in the text that Nehemiah was not just functioning humanistically?

III. Good Leaders Can Handle Opposition


INPUT - What do you see about the way Nehemiah handled this opposition that we need to note?  What mistakes could he have made in this situation?

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video