Nehemiah: A Leadership Parable

Posted: September 22, 2011 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The story of Nehemiah, found in the Hebrew Bible, after the work of Ezra (the one who re-established the priestly role in Jerusalem post-Babylonian Exile) is a story of reconstruction, and illustrations of leadership. It is a short 13 chapters and it would be unfair to say that the principles I am to write about are found only in certain chapters, they go throughout the short book.

See Nehemiah had established a life for himself in Babylon, he was cup bearer to a king. Yet he was still open to the work of the Holy within his life, and got a call from God (first leadership principle: be open to hearing, not just talking, to God) and it was this call that weighed on him so the king inquired and supported his decision to lead the return to Jerusalem and rebuilidng of the wall (Principle 2: Confirmation and support of call by others).

Principle 3 is illustrated in most project management texts today, but Nehemiah did it by horseback. First he rode through the shattered city (micro level of the project), then he move up higher to be able to see the whole city in ruins (Macro level) to inform his plan. So being able to see an issue/project on all levels, or being able to remove yourself from a situation to the higher plain.

But I have skipped ahead for there are two imporant principles within #2 to be teased out.

2.1 Spiritual companionship with The Holy Mystery. Or some would say prayer, but that is living in a constant reflective relationship with the Holy.

2.2 Removing barriers to forward movement (as seen when the king provided letters of passage). What are the challenges you will face? Who in your network can aid in their removal?

Principle 4 is delegation. That is Nehemiah broke the project down into zones and assigned each zone to a mixed group of individuals who could accomplish that priority. That is delegation and with that in the system those individuals not only given the responsibility to complete a task, but empowered with the proper authority to do it.

Principle 5 is pragmaticism. We may want to come up with flowery theological answers, but sometimes you just need to work in shifts so half can be armed and half can work. When there was stumbling blocks, the simplest solution was the easiest one to follow to remove it to lay the ground work for success.

Principle 6 speaks to fairness, or as the prophets say justice (some translations righteousness) that is doing what is right, as we see in ensuring all are cared for. (chapters 5-7)

Principle 7 is seen brightly in chapter 6, but it illustrates that a good leader needs to have their thumb on the information pulse of a community (or for today media and new media) and be able to respond in truth, and transparency.

Principle 8 is living the Core. Nehemiah had Ezra in brin the people the Law, a renewal of the core of loving God and celebrating this.

These are 8 principles my inductive reading of Nehemiah revealed to me. What have you seen?


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