Sir John Franklin lived an exciting life of adventure in the British Navy, which took him to many parts of the world. As a signal midshipman in the Battle of Trafalgar, he transmitted the memorable message from the flagship, “England expects every man to do his duty.” He was a devout Christian and found great strength in reading the Bible. His men said they would rather have him hold a service than most ministers.
In 1845 he was put in command of two ships to look for a passage across the polar seas. The last communication from them came through their contact with a whaling ship in Baffin Bay.
Many expeditions were made in the next ten years to learn the fate of Sir John Franklin’s ships. Pieces of equipment found on beaches told of shipwreck in the icy seas. One of the books was Sir John Franklin’s Bible with the following verses underlined: “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:9, 10). There was also a book of devotions with a page turned down at the verse: “Fear not … When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee” (Isa. 43:1, 2).—Free Methodist
Leadership is challenging. Real leadership is rare. Servant leadership is inspiring. I would love to tell you I was a natural-born leader, but that would be untrue. I learned leadership the hard way. I made a lot of rookie mistakes. I tried to lead congregations through radical changes without first building relationships. I have a head full of leadership lumps to prove it. It is my hope through teaching about leadership I can help save others from some of those hard life lessons. Chances are some won’t listen. They may have to learn the hard way.
Our test subject is Nehemiah. In Nehemiah 2, we are going to examine 4 qualities during this series of posts on leadership. Nehemiah possessed these characteristics and they are keys elements to be an effective leader.
God Uses People Who Are Willing to Wait
Chapter one begins with Nehemiah saying, “In the month of Kisley,” which is December. Chapter 2 begins with Nehemiah saying, “In the month of Nisan,” which is the month of April. Notice that there is a time lapse of about four months. When Nehemiah heard the bad news about the conditions in Jerusalem, he cried, he prayed, and he fasted. He said to God, “Use me, send me to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls.” Then what happened? Nothing! At least not immediately, but Nehemiah didn’t lose hope. He didn’t give up on his dream. Instead, he waited.
Patience is a leadership lesson young leaders and some old need to take time and care to value. I never wanted to be told no. I was so convinced that the ministry needed to happen yesterday. Are you like that as well? Does everything ministry decision seem urgent? We need to make this decision now; souls are at stake. So, we push our people faster than we should and are critical of them when they fail to have that same sense of the urgent that we do.
It is often necessary for us to wait on God’s timing. For 40 years Joshua served in obscurity as Moses’ assistant. He did not attract a great deal of attention to himself, but when Moses died, Joshua was ready to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. His time had come. He waited 40 years, and he was prepared. Oh boy, 40 years. That seems far too long to be an assistant pastor. The words of the psalmist ring loudly in our ears. “Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)
American Christians hate to wait for anything or anybody. We want what we want when we want it. That rings true even when it comes to our spiritual life. We want to be spiritually mature, and we want the 30 day crash course. We’re likely to pray, “Lord, give me more patience—and give it to me yesterday!”
There have been several times when new people have come to my church, and after several weeks have offered to “be a leader.” My response was “slow down there partner. We have this little clause in our church constitution that you cannot hold office until you have been a member for a few years.” Looking back, the founder of the congregation added that clause with the leading of God’s divine wisdom.
The inability to wait on God’s timing indicates a lack of spiritual maturity. A servant leader understands that you need to walk before you sprint.
God Uses People with A Positive Attitude
(v. 2) “In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before…”
The noted English architect Sir Christopher Wren was supervising the construction of a magnificent cathedral in London. A journalist thought it would be interesting to interview some of the workers, so he chose three and asked them this question, “What are you doing?” The first replied, “I’m cutting stone for 10 shillings a day.” The next answered, “I’m putting in 10 hours a day on this job.” But the third said, “I’m helping Sir Christopher Wren construct one of London’s greatest cathedrals.”
Attitude is everything. Great leaders have a great attitude. Attitude inspires loyalty and commitment. If your people are not excited about the direction you are taking them as a leader, stop and check your attitude.
Nehemiah at this point in the wall reconstruction process had been heart-broken about his homeland for four months. But Nehemiah never let that disappointment show. Instead, he channeled that into a deeper commitment to serve the king with a pleasant disposition.
Negative people make negative followers. Positive leaders create real followers. Since leaders always have more problems than most people, leaders also face bigger challenges than most people. Leaders need to find the inner strength to rise above their pain and do their job with a positive attitude. Christian leaders especially need to realize that the success of the ministry is not solely dependent on them, if it is, you need to question if this is God’s vision and not yours. If it is God’s vision, he will provide the means and the timing to make it a reality.
Other posts in this series:
 Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (p. 1527). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.