The Most Challenging Leadership Task
In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. — Nehemiah 2:1
For months, Nehemiah had managed to mask his sorrow for his people, their sins, and the destruction of Jerusalem. He adhered to the code of the Persian court, which demanded constant positivity and agreement with the king's mood. Yet, on this day, he finally let his guard down and revealed his heart. His sadness was evident, leading to a conversation that changed the course of history.
Think about this: The pivot point of Nehemiah's future was sparked by a weighty spirit in a godly man.
And I don't know about you, but I feel like that sometimes too. In fact, I have felt that way for a while now—broken about the state of God's men, the church, and this world. It is heartbreaking and overwhelming. Sometimes, I feel confused about how to respond.
But Nehemiah demonstrates the perfect balance between godly authenticity and wisdom. He didn’t recklessly display his emotions. He was patient, pondered, prayed, and planned. His restraint led him to lead the right way and at the right moment. It was risky but calculated. He could no longer fake it. Something had to be said and done.
In our world, there is often an unstated pressure to present ourselves as perpetually positive or to play to the party line. Nehemiah’s action challenges us to speak up yet find the right moments to insert our leadership voice. It's not a wild anger, erratic emotion, or an unregulated response. It is careful, thoughtful, biblically grounded, courageous leadership.
To do this, we must be adept at leading ourselves in four ways:
- Acknowledging Our Emotion: Godly or ungodly, we must recognize and acknowledge how we feel. Stop long enough to assess it.
- Addressing Our Sinful Desires: We must recognize when our emotions stem from our sinful desires. Then, we need to own the sin and the desire of the sin. We should confront them by understanding their roots and actively work toward...
- Aligning Our Desires and Emotions with Scripture: Our feelings and emotions are real but don't always reflect real truth. We need to filter our emotions through the lens of God's Word, asking ourselves how our emotions align with the teachings and truths found in Scripture and adjusting accordingly.
- Speaking Up Aligned With God's Will: The goal is to ensure that our actions, influenced by our emotions, align with God's will and character so that when we do speak up, we are fully aligned with God, who is our leader so that we get Godly results.
Self-leadership is the hardest leadership. This is very hard to do. And most don't lead this way because:
- They are not in touch with their emotions.
- They don't take time to address their sinful desires.
- They don't consult Scripture for direction.
- Therefore, they don't speak on behalf of God, only themselves.
If this is you, which it probably is, consider one area in your life where you hide your true feelings. Then, in your Scripture Journal, follow the pattern here. Step your way through each of these steps slowly. Write it out and slow it down. Lead yourself. It will only take a few minutes to do. And then remember Nehemiah did this for four months before he ever acted. If you take even five minutes to do this, I promise it will pay out spiritual dividends for you.
Nehemiah demonstrated a balance between expressing his emotions and exercising wisdom. Reflect on a time when you faced a similar situation. How did you navigate expressing your emotions while adhering to wisdom and godliness? In what ways can Nehemiah's approach inspire you to manage your emotions in challenging circumstances, especially in leadership roles?
Nehemiah took time to align his feelings with God's Word before acting. How do you assess and align your emotions with Scriptural truths daily? Discuss practical steps you can take to ensure your responses to emotional situations are grounded in biblical principles and aligned with God's will. How can this practice transform how you lead and interact with others in your community?
DO THIS: Work through the four steps with one emotion you presently feel.
PRAY THIS: Lord, grant me the wisdom to discern my emotions and align them with Your will, just as Nehemiah did, so that my actions may reflect Your truth and lead others toward Your righteous path. Help me to speak and act in ways that honor You, guiding my heart with Your wisdom and courage in every step I take.
PLAY THIS: Champion.
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