The Nehemiah Project
Teaching #6: “Godly Leadership is Important!”
Nehemiah 5:14-6:14; 11:1-12:26
[God is calling us to go above and beyond!]
Sunday morning teaching by Pastor Jerry Ingalls on October 23, 2016
We believe that every single person in the Body of Christ is important, no one person more important than another.
Let’s take a 1 minute and listen to some of Nehemiah 11:1—12:26… Did you hear that? NAMES…
Why is this important? Because every member of the body is important to God and to the accomplishment of God’s work on earth! Each Christian is a member of the Body of Christ! Each member is important; each member is called to be a spiritual witness in their neighborhood; each member needs to be equipped to do the work of God in and through them. We will see that in the Body of Christ, the call of spiritual leadership neither exalts the leaders nor lets the people out of their unique place of service. All alike are called by God to do their part!
What we have here is the classic good news/bad news scenario. For those of us who think that leaders are unnecessarily exalted or lifted up, this confirms that they shouldn’t be. But with that comes the bad news – you are not off the hook. The flawed church model of paying the pastors to “do ministry” is not biblical. To default to elders and deacons “leading by doing it all” is not biblical either. It requires you! It requires us! We each are important members of the Body of Christ!
What does Nehemiah 3 have in common with Nehemiah 11:1—12:26? Nehemiah’s name is not mentioned, except one time in Nehemiah 12:26 to identify that this was in the time of him being governor. We see that the key leader is not highlighted in the midst of long lists of key people.
Why is this important? Because God’s strategy must be birthed in a person, but for the vision of God to manifest it must be cast for the community of God to catch, and then each person must carry it as their own for us all to see fulfillment of God’s promise in us. This is how God designed us…one affects all! We are connected by the Gospel!
The will of God has never been a lone ranger operation; it is the work of God’s covenant people…all of us working together as one mature body.
Can we agree to the fact that we are together, the one Body of Christ, according to 1 Corinthians 12:12-20? Then it should follow that all of us, though we are many, each are an important part of the body.
The power of all is greater than the power of one, but the power of all requires that each one sees its value to the whole. But there’s an inherent problem in this set up… The Bible says we are all like sheep in need of a shepherd; each of us likes to do and go our own way.
As we read Nehemiah 5:14—6:14, we learn 3 important principles about spiritual leadership:
1. Spiritual leaders keep the people focused on the work of God![PASTOR KEN TO PREACH POINT 1] The Bible is riddled with example after example of what happens when there are not leaders who will keep people focused on doing the work of God. Without spiritual leaders, the work of God will falter, go off course, and eventually cease all together! Where there is no leadership, the people do what is right in their own eyes, and that never has and never will turn out for our good or God’s glory!
Nehemiah was God’s tool to return the people to right relationship and fellowship with God, fulfilling the IF of Nehemiah 1:9, “If you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.”
Last week we discussed Nehemiah’s response to the sin of the people in Nehemiah 5:6-11. These people were exploiting each other for profit and enslaving one another for personal gain; there was economic injustice within the people of God! Now let’s get real and personal about what’s going on here at FBC. None of us are probably enslaving one another for personal gain. But, some of us are gossiping or holding grudges or withholding love or fellowship, or acting in other ways that are not consistent with “walking in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of our enemies” (Nehemiah 5:9). Rather than preventing the taunts, our behavior is often times encouraging the ridicule and derision that comes from the community toward the church, if not serving to prove their views accurate and true.
What is the role of spiritual leadership in the Body of Christ today?
Spiritual leaders in the Body of Christ are still God’s tools to build His people into a people where His name can dwell! No one tool is the same, but we all serve that one greater vision—the glory of God!
Jesus Christ said of the Apostle Paul, “He is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).
Paul said of spiritual leadership in Ephesians 4:11-16, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Do we have Spirit-empowered people who are willing to lead according to God’s will, whatever that takes, so that we will be the dwelling place of God’s Name?
2. Spiritual leaders must be led by the Spirit themselves first. Revival begins in a person, not an organization or program.
Nehemiah, as a spiritual leader, allowed God to do in Him first what God was expecting out of all of His people. We see this beginning from Nehemiah 1, with a broken heart for God’s people, Nehemiah started praying and God moved this man out of his comfort zone into a greater purpose than his own well-being. The revival and reformation of the people of God would not have happened without the Spirit-led revival and reformation of Nehemiah first, which then led to effective spiritual leadership of God’s people.
Listen to the witness of this revival in Nehemiah from Nehemiah 5:14-19.
FBC is not a bank, not Rotary or the Optimist club, not a business, to be led by human wisdom. It is the Body of Christ, to be led by the Holy Spirit.
Spiritual leaders, above all, must be people who have a personal encounter with God and are sealed and anointed by His power and presence. Without the anointing of God, no person can be a spiritual leader.
To be a spiritual leader, you must have a genuine Isaiah 6 moment in your life! You don’t have to be perfect to be a spiritual leader, but you must be humbled by the presence of God and sincere in your faith, open to correction (coachable), and teachable in the things of the Word and Spirit.
Though we are called to the same larger vision of being the people of God where His Glory manifests—where His name dwells—spiritual leaders are specifically called by God to a specific situation. Spiritual leaders of the Bible and throughout church history, including today, are real people, with real faith, in real history! The Holy Spirit will bring the people and the spiritual leader together in the fear of the Lord. Without the fear of the Lord, the leader won’t lead according to the Word of God and the people won’t submit to the Word of God as taught by the leader.
3) Spiritual leaders must fear God alone!
Spiritual leaders are servants of God and His will for a people. Once again, I must stress, for my own sanity and yours, that spiritual leaders are not perfect, but must seek to be above reproach so that when accusations come (and they will come, whether false or true) their behavior and reputation will attest to the integrity of God’s call upon them.
Spiritual leaders must remember who they submit to and fear God above all else, including failure, or they cannot do the work God calls them to.
Listen to Nehemiah 6:1-14. Fear is a weapon of enemy!
We cannot please everyone nor can we give in to the opposition’s desires. We can neither white wash the teaching of God’s Word nor can we go about the work of God like the world! Spiritual leaders cannot be led by a desire for popularity among those they serve, but must seek to be pleasing to the One who called them to serve. Brothers and sisters, this is true for each one of us, we do not need to be oppositional and defiant, stubborn and stiff necked, we should seek to please God.
Today, God is calling us, FBC, to move toward the Lord Jesus as His one body and toward one another as fellow members of the one Body of Christ.
Pastor Ken and I, along with our fellow elders, are called to be spiritual leaders to the body of Christ. You are called to be one with us, and we are called to be one with you (mutual submission as taught in Ephesians 4-5). Each of us as individuals and households, and all of us collectively are called to be completely submissive (100% dependent; there is no such thing as spiritual independence!) to the will of the Lord in and through us, according to the Word of God.
I acknowledge, confess, and repent, that I and the pastors and elders that have served with me and have come before me, have sinned against you. Would you please forgive me, those who currently lead you, and those who have led you in the past, of our leadership sins? And if there is restitution necessary for you from us; please let us know so we can work on that together.
Can we come together today in forgiveness and choose to invite God’s design of spiritual leadership in the body of Christ? Can we ask God to give us His leadership model at FBC? Can we do this knowing that it will be exercised imperfectly, not because of God, but because of our own sin, pride, and disunity that must be daily confessed and repented? Can we keep short accounts and follow the Bible’s plan for reconciliation and restoration?
I invite us now, as a sign for the world to see (John 13:35) of what God has done and is doing in us, to join hands as one large neighborhood throughout this whole place and pray together, for one another and pass the peace of God to one another…. [say, “the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you and with us” to the person on either side of you and then take time to pray for one another, out loud please, all at once, a beautiful symphony of prayer coming from our body].
To read more about the Nehemiah Project, click HERE.
On October 30th Pastor Ken Durham will be preaching on Nehemiah 6:15 – 7:73 (Welcoming Home)!