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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lessons on Leadership

If you research Biblical principles for leadership, you'll find that the business writers have turned this into a massive market for books, tapes, training materials, seminars and web sites. The guys that are writing, speaking and selling Biblical leadership materials are proliferating (and making a lot of money). From my own perspective, there are two main sources of Biblical leadership. The first is the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament. The second is simply Jesus' teachings and his own life.

Ministers seem to preach mostly about leadership from the book of Nehemiah. I don't know why that is, but maybe it's harder for them to discern the leadership principles of Jesus. At any rate, Nehemiah is a good place to look. It is a book rich in leadership principals. In fact, there are a number of lessons on leadership that we can take from the book of Nehemiah. Today, we'll look at what are probably the most evident of those.

Leadership Lesson # 1 - Some leaders are driven by profits and losses. Godly leaders are driven by people and lives. (Nehemiah 1:1-4)

Leadership Lesson # 2 - Some leaders act immediately, using their instinct and intellect. Godly leaders wait, pray and plan. (Nehemiah 1:5-11)

Leadership Lesson # 3 - Some leaders need all the how's answered before they act. Godly leaders act by faith on the opportunities God presents to them. (Nehemiah 2:1-8)

Leadership Lesson # 4 - Some leaders define their goals before they set out to achieve them. Godly leaders investigate before they initiate. (Maybe this is is so they know how much faith they'll need!) (Nehemiah 2:11-18)

Leadership Lesson # 5 - Some leaders are proud of their vision, and see themselves as great vision casters. Godly leaders know that the best vision --- and the one most likely to succeed --- is a shared vision.

How does one get to a shared vision? Cast it in the right timing (Nehemiah 1:12, 16). Cast it to the right people (Nehemiah 2:16). Cast it with the urgency of the challenge (Nehemiah 2:17). Cast it as the corporate solution now (Nehemiah 2:17). Cast it with the reasons and benefits (Nehemiah 2:17). Finally, godly leaders cast vision with God's involvement made clear (Nehemiah 2:18).

Leadership Lesson # 6 - Some leaders respond negatively to criticism. God leaders receive it in love --- or at least that God allowed it for a reason. (Nehemiah 4:9-15)

What does a godly leader do with criticism that seems unjust or unfair? Take it to God in prayer (Nehemiah 4:9). Remain focused on the job God called you to do (Nehemiah 4:12). Check yourself and check your plans --- to make sure you have eliminated all possible reasons for the unreasonable criticism (Nehemiah 4:13). Finally, the godly leader, when faced with painful criticism, must remember that the work is empowered by God and the results are God's responsibility (Nehemiah 4:14).

Leadership Lesson # 7 - Some leaders shy away from conflict. Godly leaders are courageous and swiftly address disunity and misalignment issues to get everyone focused back on the vision. (Nehemiah 5:1-13)

Leadership Lesson # 8 - Some leaders lead by position and pursue integrity as a means to get something. (I'm the boss and if I am a man of integrity, it will all work out.) Godly leaders, however, lead by influence and pursue integrity as a result of loving God. They know that who you are is more important than what you do. (Nehemiah 5:14-19)

Leadership Lesson # 9 - Some leaders get distracted pursuing several good things. Godly leaders stay focused on a great work. They know that good is the enemy of great, and that urgency is the enemy of importance. (Nehemiah 6:1-4)

Leadership Lesson # 10 - Some leaders act out of fear and scarcity. They claim the stewardship role first in their leadership. Godly leaders act out of faith and obedience --- and understand that it's God's job to provide the abundance. (Nehemiah 6:5-14)

Leadership Lesson # 11 - Some leaders build for the immediate need. Godly leaders build it to last. They reinforce Biblical core values. (Nehemiah 8-10, 13)

Leadership Lesson # 12 - Some leaders view the end as their next promotion, a giant church, an IPO or even retirement. But the end of godly leadership and a God-ordained vision is God Himself. (Nehemiah 8:1-12)

Leadership Lesson # 13 - There are lot of people in leadership roles in our homes, churches, schools and communities. Not all of them are godly. But when they are, it is a joy to submit to their leadership. Godly leaders have godly followers. (Nehemiah, Matthew, Mark, Luke & John)

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