The first great return of Israel back to the promised land from Persia is an amazing story of redemption. The story of the return from exile is split into three different waves of return and has three primary leaders that lead each wave. Today the Lord brought me to the book of Ezra and Nehemiah and showed me a few things that I really thought were important for all leaders to remember. Everyone is in a place of leadership over others or in a place that they somehow influence others. Leadership is not always a matter of a title but simply impacting the lives that are naturally around you. Everyone is a leader in some way.
1. Don’t try to do it alone
The first wave of the Hebrew nation had returned to Jerusalem and as they began to rebuild the foundation of the temple. In Ezra 3:9 it says that many of them “joined together” to help supervise all the work that had to be done. It’s important to remember that whatever God has called us to do will always require that we partner with others. There are no lone-rangers in the Kingdom. Instead God disperses the gift in various people throughout His body so that we learn to work together. When we come together in unity to build the Kingdom, the unbelieving world sees Christ in us and God is glorified by the accomplishment of not one man or ministry. We can’t do it alone and need the support of others.
2. Devote yourself to the Lord
The second wave of Israelites had arrived in Jerusalem and Ezra comes onto the scene in Ezra 7. Ezra was known as a man with great favor from the Lord and it is even said, “the gracious hand of his God was on him.” The source of all of this favor and blessing is revealed in Ezra 7:10. Ezra was a man devoted to studying the Word of God. He was a man of deep devotion and commitment to the Lord. It can be safe to assume that from the way verse 10 is written that the favor on his life was a direct result of the great devotion he had for the law of the Lord. As leaders we desperately need God’s favor and blessing on us in order to attain the God-sized goals he has placed in our hearts. We need to be known as people that are fully committed and devoted to Jesus who is the Word of God (Jn 1:1). This devotion is the key to our success. If we want to see the realization of our dreams then we need to be pursuing God with reckless abandon and studying His word day and night.
3. Stand up for Justice
Nehemiah was the leader that brought the 3rd and final wave of Israelites back into their promised land. He helped to rebuild the walls of the city and stood in the face of much opposition. As leaders we can all expect opposition. Leaders exist because the current situation or condition needs to change in some way. Leaders are meant to take things somewhere new, which can sometimes be scary. Leaders also must be prepared to stand up and confront situations that are unacceptable. We can’t be scared to face confrontation. In Nehemiah 5:9-13 you can see a story of Nehemiah standing up for an injustice that was being done to the people of Israel. This was probably not a comfortable situation for him to confront but he knew that he had to do something. As we lead we may see things that are in desperate need of change. We may have to confront a person or a group of people about this which can cause a lot of discomfort. We as leaders need to have the courage to stand up for justice and confront event the hardest issues.
There are many more examples that can be found from the leaders in these two books but I just wanted to take time to mention three important ones the Lord has shown me. I would highly recommend reading these two books looking for insight into being a better leader. The Lord has given us an amazing instructional manual in His Word to help us become the leaders he is calling us to be.
Out of these three examples, what’s the one that you struggle with the most?