There are 10 indisputable traits of leadership from the 16th book of the Bible, the stunning Jewish literature we call Nehemiah. There are only 13 chapters in this curious book of supreme church leadership training with a total of 406 verses.When you think about it, our chief desire is someone to inspire us to become what we know we could be. Everything rises and falls on leadership! In my life I have had the distinct pleasure of being exposed and mentored by outstanding leaders. And, once you have seen a true leader’s example and influence it leaves you wanting more in your own life.
Although most people in our contemporary culture are unaware, Nehemiah was one of the greatest leaders of all time. In summation, Nehemiah led a lethargic group of Jewish people to accomplish what would have been considered an impossible task in record time. When you become intimately familiar with his story, as I have, it is one of the most inspiring church training manuals for leadership. There are 10 essential traits of leadership, which Nehemiah so effectively embodied:
- Leaders pray effectively. The rapid speed of the project Nehemiah accomplished began with humble, self-effacing prayer. Great leaders know their power source is God.
- Leaders exude loyalty. There was a protocol for Nehemiah to approach the most powerful king of his day. He was exemplary in his leadership in every way. Leaders make us want to be better, not bitter, with the challenges of life. Nehemiah faced insurmountable obstacles and nowhere do we read of self-pity or complaint.
- Leaders demonstrate the power of perseverance. You will know you are a leader when you inherit detractors. If you are not making things happen everyone will like you.
- Leaders see into the future. Leaders know what can be and that is exactly why they see obstacles as opportunities and are willing to pay the price to succeed.
- Leaders discern distractions. Whenever forward movement toward a goal takes place or even vision is cast setting a loftier future, there will always be distractions and divisive people. Nothing is more intimidating to non-progressive people than a person with vision. Nehemiah had a trio of detractors that questioned and maligned him. Although centuries have passed, nothing has changed in human behavior since that inspired narrative.Leaders, know the terrain is tough, and they don’t vacillate.
- Leaders leave a legacy. Leaders cast a long shadow. In their wake are inspired people moving to new levels of performance and effectiveness. Non-leaders hoard and exhibit insecurity, whereas true leaders give the most priceless possession – their invisible, invincible spirit to others.
- Leaders serve as catalysts. There is nothing quite as inspiring as a leader. Vince Lombardi said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” Aspiring to be a leader comes with the promise of getting “knocked down.” This is essential to the making of a leader. And, as a leader endures the knocks of life and keeps-on-keeping on, he teaches other not by theory or rhetoric, rather reality.
- Leaders challenge people. Nehemiah had a timetable in rebuilding the walls of the Jewish temple and suddenly his timetable became everybody’s timetable. I have never met a true leader yet who was not in a hurry! Walter Isaacson was the authorized biographer of the founder of Apple. Steve Jobs certainly had many blemishes. An interesting remark, however, from many of Jobs’ closest team members was, “Steve raised me to a level within myself that I didn’t even know existed.” This is leadership.
- Leaders pursue innovation. The status quo means nothing to a leader. Yesterday’s victories are boring news to a true leader. Just as Nehemiah assembled teams and crews to complete a historic building project that included the chronicle of numerous families by name, so too, leaders are always asking, “How can we do this more efficiently?”
- Leaders provide a role model. The greatest leader who ever lived was Jesus Christ. Talk about starting a global movement! His role model has inspired people through the centuries from every ethnicity. Jesus divides time and eternity and still motivates us, individually, every day.