Equipped for a mission-focused
Journey With Jesus

Nehemiah: A Model of Leadership

Nehemiah became the ministry role model that I needed for my personal development as a ministry leader.

By Dishon Mills, Pastor Charlotte, NC

I remember the moment when I first transitioned into the role of ministry leader. I was the youth minister at a Pentecostal congregation, and we needed more volunteers to keep up with the growing group. For the first time in ministry, I had to equip, coordinate, and lead a volunteer team in participating in the work of Christ. From my secular work, I knew a bit about being strategic, setting goals, managing workers, and evaluating effort when I was in charge. But how could I do those things when Jesus is the one in charge? How could I lead other children of God in following Christ, by the Spirit?

You may have asked yourself similar questions. In ministry, we must strike the balance between being Spirit-led and being strategic. On one hand, we need to humbly confess that Christ is the vine, and we are the branches. We can do nothing apart from him, and we rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us and conform us to the image of Christ — individually and collectively. On the other hand, we must be good custodians of the resources God provides. We must do all we can to actively participate in the work God has given us to do, which includes being strategic and organized. Just like the parable of the talents, God wants us to steward the gifts he gives with vision and wisdom. Sometimes it is hard to know how to strike the balance. When I became a ministry leader, I realized that effectively mobilizing people to participate in God-given work is something that must be learned and practiced and I had no clue how to be both Spirit-led and strategic.

I began looking for other ministry role models to emulate. What should I do as a ministry leader to lead like Christ? How do I best plan and organize the ministry work? How do I best manage others and bring out the best in them? That is when God reintroduced me to Nehemiah.

Nehemiah is an extraordinary historical book of the Bible that vividly displays the power of God to restore and renew. Nehemiah lived during a time when Israel had been conquered, the people were in exile, and the walls of Jerusalem laid in ruin. He led a group of a little over 42,000 Hebrew exiles to build walls that were 2.5 miles long, an average of 40 feet high, and an average of 8 feet thick. It was a daunting task to say the least. I have previously read the book of Nehemiah for its theological significance. There are so many useful parallels to our spiritual walk, and the book beautifully foreshadows the restoration of humanity in Christ. However, when I looked at the book again, God showed me that it was a master class in effective, Spirit-led ministry leadership.

Nehemiah became the ministry role model that I needed. I reread the book, writing down everything Nehemiah did and summarized it in modern terms. Then, I organized his actions into three themes that emerged: management of self, planning and organization, and management of others. The result was this tool, Nehemiah’s Lessons on Leadership and Management.

The first thing I did with the tool was do a self-evaluation. I looked at each characteristic of Nehemiah and asked myself, “Do I see concrete evidence of this in my life and in my ministry leadership?” I indicated the characteristics that needed growth and cultivation. Then, I chose one characteristic from each of the three major themes. In prayer, I asked God to develop that competency in me for his glory.

I also looked at the life of Nehemiah to discern success indicators. In other words, I set targets for myself — targets that would show the presence of that attribute. For instance, if I chose “know the system in which they are working,” some of the indicators of that might include:

• I have identified a target area
• I know those with political power in the area
• I know the short- and long-term plans for the area
• I know the best way to connect to my neighbors in the area, etc.

If I had to do it again, I would seek a wise accountability partner or coach and share my personal goals with that person. I find that it is always better to get an outside perspective when pursuing personal development.
When I saw evidence that I was consistently displaying one of the chosen characteristics, I chose another competency from the same theme and repeated the process.

The process of self-evaluation and reflection can be challenging. No one really enjoys discovering things they need to improve. I am motivated by my love for God’s children. It is amazing that God invites me to participate in the care for those made in his image. It is a tremendous responsibility so I want to do all I can to be the leader the people of God deserve. I pray my story blesses you and inspires you to become the best strategic ministry leader you can be.

2 thoughts on “Nehemiah: A Model of Leadership”

  1. Hello Dishon
    Thanks for this inspired insight – I have worked in secular community leadership roles for 30years and find your leadership tool very much reflects my experience.

  2. Another excellent contribution!
    Every blessing,

    Book recommendation: The Making of a Leader: Recognizing the Lessons and Stages of Leadership by Robert Clinton

Leave a Reply

© Copyright 2024 Grace Communion International

GCI Equipper Privacy Policy