Constructive Leadership (Part 1)
Are you a leader or a follower? In order to be pleasing to God, most of us need to be both. In certain relationships, we must lead; in others, we must follow. For instance, when it comes to my relationship with my family, I need to be the leader. I need to guide my wife and children in the way of truth and righteousness. I have a God-given responsibility to lead. On the other hand, when it comes to my relationship with the Lord as a Christian or my relationship with the government as an American citizen, I must be a follower (except, of course, where the government would have me do that which is contrary to the will of God; Acts 4:19; 5:29).

We presented two lessons on leadership recently and I'd like for us to revisit that theme today and tomorrow, focusing specifically on constructive leadership. Essentially, we'll be considering ten points from the narrative in Nehemiah 2 which serve as a wonderful example of strong, helpful leadership--leadership that is constructive. The events of this chapter took place in approximately 445 B.C., after the Babylonian captivity.

Nehemiah 2:17 reads - "Then I [Nehemiah] said to them [the Hebrew people], 'You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach."

Nehemiah spoke to the people. He explained the problem and shared his solution. No leader can be successful with little or no communication with his followers.

Nehemiah didn't try to gloss over the truth or hide it from the people. He plainly told them of the bad situation they were in. Jerusalem was desolate and its gates burned by fire. God had allowed the Babylonians to bring this destruction upon Jerusalem approximately 140 years earlier as punishment for the continued rebelliousness of the kingdom of Judah (II Kings 24 & 25).

Nehemiah did not say, "You do this for me" and "You do that." He wanted to cooperate with them - "Come and let us build..." Good leaders are co-laborers with their followers, not dictators. This approach is always more effective and productive.

This is true in two ways. First, constructive leadership is challenging in that it is difficult or not easily maintained. Second, constructive leadership is challenging in that a good leader will always be looking to set challenging, yet attainable, goals for his followers. He must consistently push them on, not to mediocrity, but to greatness! Rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem was a positive thing for the Hebrew people in many ways. But, it wasn't an easy task! There were plenty of obstacles (both external and internal) to the fulfillment of the goal.

Nehemiah, like any good leader, was concerned about his people. The state of Jerusalem at that time was pitiful; it was a discredit to the nation. Nehemiah wanted to help them overcome this reproach. If a leader only cares about his own personal interests and plans, he will be a detriment, not a help, to his followers.

We will continue this study tomorrow by contemplating five more principles of constructive leadership found in Nehemiah 2:18 and the following verses.