This Overflow blog series is a chance to dive deeper into some untouched territory in the book of Nehemiah. These blogs come from the overflow of our Unruined series at Awaken Church.
You can read the rest of the Overflow blog posts HERE.
You can watch or listen to the Unruined series on the Awaken teaching archive.
Nehemiah wasn’t intending to write a book on leadership, but his inadvertent leadership book is better than many purposeful leadership books I’ve read!
When it comes to ministry work, and especially when it’s volunteer work, one of the major challenges can be keeping your team fired up. We know the Bible encourages us to not lose heart in doing good because there’s a reward coming, but let’s be honest. We do the exact thing that the Bible says we shouldn’t do and will be rewarded for not doing. We lose heart.
As I watch Nehemiah from a distance, I see some practical ways to keep your team fired up and prevent them from losing heart…
Notice who is working and what they are doing.
At first read, Nehemiah 3 is about as exhilarating as reading the payroll of a construction company, only with foreign names that are hard to pronounce. Although you may have only skimmed (or maybe completely skipped) Nehemiah 3, the very names that make it challenging to read are partly what give the chapter so much meaning.
Ministry is God’s work, but He uses people to do it. (tweet this)
Nehemiah understood that principle and made sure to note the names of the people who were working and what they were working on. Nothing went unnoticed for Nehemiah.
Whether you lead a ministry team, a team of co-workers, your family, or you’re on a team, noticing who is working and what they are doing is HUGE. Everyone wants to know that what they’re doing matters. Go out of your way to learn the names of people serving around you, and make note of what they do. And if you’re not naturally an encourager, fight against that and encourage anyway!
Let the gifts be your guide.
Nehemiah 3 begins with the priests building the Sheep Gate, which would have opened to the Temple. They were particularly interested in that gate. Some people built portions of the wall near or around their homes, others built parts of the wall that faced the cities they lived in. Many of the people building the walls had a vested interest in the areas they were serving in.
It’s good to have willing people serving on your ministry teams, but here’s something even better: willing, gifted people. Who are these “gifted” people I speak of? Christians. Every Christian has a very particular set of God-given skills. Skills we have acquired from the Holy Spirit (think Laim Neeson in Taken).
When a church first begins, a handful of willing people need to be serving in places they may not be especially gifted in. But the goal is to get to where each ministry position is filled with willing, gifted people. People whose God-given gifts make them a perfect fit for that ministry team.
Why? Because the areas that God wired us for are the areas where we will thrive the most. When you get someone into a position where they’re not gifted, it will turn into a headache for everyone. But when you get them into a spot where they’re gifted and have a vested interest, you may have to ask them to go home early because they’ll never want to quit!
Don’t take the credit.
If you want to kill morale and stop momentum, pat yourself on the back and talk about what an amazing leader you are. But if you’d rather boost morale and gain momentum, turn the spotlight onto your team.
Nehemiah had a book of the Bible named after him! There only 65 others, and he snagged one. He could have taken a lot more credit. He could have easily written in third person and included himself in the story. That would be completely justifiable. After all, he’s working too!
There is one Nehemiah listed in this chapter, but he’s not the Nehemiah, the book’s namesake. The Nehemiah is walking around, taking notes, praising people and their work, providing oversight, direction, and organization. He is nowhere mentioned in Chapter 3. Again, that’s not because he was above the work – it’s because he was in his spot doing what he was supposed to be doing, just like the priests building the sheep gate or Shallum and his daughters repairing their portion of the wall.
If you’ll work hard to notice people and their work, help them find where they are gifted, and give the credit away, you’ll become a Nehemiah-type leader that people want to follow!