Leaders are hard to find. I hope that this helps you learn from the book of Nehemiah about leadership and to honestly address how he was a great leader and how his leadership style challenges us. God will develop leaders if we let Him. May the Lord help all of us to grow and become the leaders that He wants us to be. In this first chapter, we see how important it is to be honest about the situation and to be willing to help.
1. Be honest and face the situation
1. Where do you consider home? What would you do if your hometown faced a disaster like an earthquake, tornado or wildfire?
Read Nehemiah 1:1-11
2. What is the setting? What is the news that Nehemiah receives about his hometown? (v 1-3)
3. What is Nehemiah’s reaction when he hears the news of the city? (v.4)
4. How grieved do you think the church is about the physical and spiritual state of God’s people? Enough to pray? Fast? Act? Why is it not enough to wait and let others do something about it?
5. How does Nehemiah describe God in the prayer? (v.5) Why would this situation need “the God of heaven”?
6. How big is your God? What do you say about God? What are you willing to do because of what you believe?
7. Who is at fault for these problems? (v.6-7) Why do you think that Nehemiah included himself (“we” v.7) in the sin even though he was 800 miles from Jerusalem and lived almost 170 years after the captivity began?
8. The concept of shared guilt is foreign to western ears, but is common in the Bible. What would be the result if more Christians saw a problem and treated it as “their problem” instead of pointing the finger or “finding who is to blame”?
9. What promise could the Jewish people claim? (v.9) Why was this promise so important to Nehemiah? What does this promise show about God?
10. As you look at the problems with the church at large, what promises of God would you be able to quote as you pray? How would such Bible promises lend power and authority to your prayers?
11. What specific request does Nehemiah end the prayer with? (v.11) What is he offering to God in the process?
12. Leaders tackle problems and do not make excuses. What is one issue facing your church that you would be willing to tackle alone or in the company of others? Why is that issue important to you?
Lessons from Nehemiah
Marks of a leader in Neh. 1
1. A leader has an honest perspective on the needs v.4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. A leader doesn’t ignore the problem or sugar coat it. He doesn’t expand the problem and make it seem worse than it is. He sees the world around him or her as it really is. He sees what others are going through and has an honest appreciation of what is really needed.
2. A leader empathizes with the needs and reacts with compassion v.4b - For some days I mourned and fasted. The problem wasn’t 800 miles away. It was Nehemiah’s problem and he not only felt their needs, but he began to pray to see what God was calling him to do about the problem. It would have been easy to ignore the problem and say that it did not affect him. Yet it affected the people that he loved and thus he, like Esther, saw that it was his problem and that God had put him in a unique position to help.
3 A leader goes first to God with the need – v.5 Then I said: "O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, Problems will never be truly solved until you take it to the Lord in prayer. Prayer is essential in the life of the leader. Nehemiah believed in the power and compassion of God. He also (in verse 6-7) confesses that the problem has occurred because the people forgot their God.
4. A leader makes himself available to the plans of God v.11b Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man." I was cupbearer to the king. When a leader spots a problem, he bows before the Lord and offers himself. You have asked the Lord to work miracles, but God often does not do His work here on earth without tools. A leader doesn’t expect someone else to volunteer while they sit back. The leader offers himself for service before the Lord.