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The Heart of a Godly Leader (Part Two)

Posted on April 23, 2013 at 10:34 PM Comments comments (109)

Text: Nehemiah 1:1-11   

In the introduction to Part One of last week’s Journal, I proposed  the five characteristics of a Godly leader’s heart. He loves his people wholeheartedly by being(1) sensitive to the problems of people, (2) personally concerned with and sensitive to their needs, (3) willing to meet the needs of others, (4) honest in admitting a biblical truth about the love and justice of God in every situation, and (5) knowledgeable of the biblical definition of a covenant from the Old Testament perspective. Beginning with the description of a Godly leader’s heart, I discussed extensively the first point: A Godly leader is sensitive to the problems of others.  This week, I will talk about (1) A Godly heart is personally concerned with and is sensitive to the needs of others and (2) he is willing to meet the needs of others. Let’s continue the description of a Godly heart.  

The Description of a Godly Leader’s Heart          

A Godly leader’s heart is personally concerned with and is sensitive to the needs of others  (Neh. 1:3). Nehemiah was brokenhearted when he heard about the trouble of his people. There was no more protection for them: “Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” The heart of a Godly leader does not rejoice when others are poor and in trouble; it is concerned about the poor. The concepts of what it can do to help out will always rise up in that heart. The burden will always be in that heart until something is done.  

In order to understand Nehemiah’s heart, we need to learn the importance of the ancient wall and its gates. Walls were built for defensive purposes. They were a kind of fortification used to protect a city or settlement from potential aggressors.  For example, the wall of Jericho in Joshua chapter 6 was destroyed by the power of God after Israel marched around it seven times. There are other walls constructed to mark territorial boundaries such as the Great Wall of China, Hadrian’s Wall, etc.    Some ancient walls had towers built on top of the wall, one each,  in the four corners of the entire wall.  Guards were posted for 24 hours to watch out for potential enemy attacks. There were also others who guarded gates of the cities and doors of palaces, temples, and other large buildings. Their task was to admit or reject visitors (Kgs. 7:10-11; 11:4-9). In the Bible, these men are variously named as gatekeepers, porters, doorkeepers, and guards.[2]  The Psalmist calls them watchmen: “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” (Ps. 127:1-2). With this background of the wall, the people of Jerusalem, without walls, were vulnerable to anything!  The heart of a Godly leader knows what is important to the people even in their state of mediocrity. Nehemiah decided to fast and pray to God alone. If you as leader know  about a certain problem in the life of a member of your church, without doing something to help out while you serve as the leader, means you do not have the heart of a Godly leader.  One may not solve all the problems, but you can at least do something to help. A leader, like Nehemiah, must give up his luxuries to stand with his people.  

Typologically, the broken wall in our lives today is our broken relationship with Jesus Christ. There are some who have not given their lives to Jesus Christ and are completely defenseless. Without Christ, one is being controlled by the prince of darkness. Those who are already in Christ, yet are walking in disobedience are like those who live in Jerusalem at the time of Nehemiah, broken down without any protection, vulnerable to anything.  What we need to do is to imitate Nehemiah by prostrating before the Almighty God the promise-keeper for mercy and forgiveness.   

A Godly heart is willing to meet the needs of others (1:4-11).  Knowing a man’s problem and helping him are two different things.  Nehemiah’s heart was broken; he wept, mourned, and fasted for many days when he heard about the deplorable condition of his people. Hestands ready to be used as an instrument for the deliverance of his people.  Many church leaders and other theologians believe that true revival comes from collective prayers and fasting.  But this was not the theology of Nehemiah. He could have called his fellow Jews who were still in Susa to join him in prayer but he did not. He believed that since God had given him the heart to love the people through difficulties, he chose to weep, fast, and mourn before God.  (It is not wrong to stage a prayer meeting for leaders to pray, but it is not always necessary in some instances.)   

Ezra was the leader of the second returnees from Babylon. His primary responsibility was the reinstitution of the Law (Ezra 7-8) and all its regulations. Upon his arrival, he was told that the first group that returned was headed by Zerubbabel; they reconstructed the temple to continue the worship of God in Jerusalem. The people were again living in gross disobedience through intermarriage (Ezra 9: 1-2). Hearing and seeing such disobedience of God’s people, including the priests and the Levites, Ezra was appalled!  He tore his tunic and cloak, pulled hair from his own head and beard and sat down heartbroken (Ezra 9:3-7). This was a public act of Godly grieve, and as a result of his praying and fasting revival broke out.  

The strength of a Godly heart is it knows where the power is. The error of many Godly leaders today is that they have been poisoned by Satan to rely upon their great learning and research in any given situation instead of flatly prostrating themselves in the arms of power.  Is it wrong to be an academian and to do research, to reflect on the past and see what others have done at the time of their situation?  No! We need both theologians and “kneeologians” in obedience to the Great Commission. This term (kneeologian) is an affectionate name for those who are prayer warriors.  A kneeologian seeks God’s wisdom first on his knees in any given situation before reading about the faithfulness of other Christians. When you are broken, don’t be a theologian first before putting on your kneeological cap. Why? Because a kneeologian seeks God’s wisdom first through intensive prayers, in order to do things from God’s point of view in any situation. God has a unique way in dealing with each one He sends. However, some theologians may likely approach a situation based on their analyses of how others have done it.  Not being a kneeologian first is the root of many failures and discouragements within the family of God.  Notice the difference in how God used Ezra and Nehemiah:  Ezra tore his tunic and cloak in the presence of the people.  This was a major sign of distress in Israel, and revival broke out as a result of his brokenness.  But Nehemiah expressed his brokenness in secret and God honored it too!   

To be continued.    

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[2] Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. Tyndale Bible dictionary: Tyndale reference library (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001) 513.