Everything in your life hinges on leadership.

In fact, for every destination you have arrived at, someone had to choose a path of leadership for it to come to pass. It required someone to pick up the mantle and take action.

Sadly, many people in the church turn a blind eye to the leadership journey God has created for them. Maybe they think they aren’t skilled enough or already have too much on their plates. But did you know that if you are created in God’s image (and you are!), you are also called to move forward in leadership?

Throughout the Bible, many of God’s people were called to lead in something. One of my favorite stories is of Nehemiah, who surrendered entirely to the burden God placed on his heart.

Nehemiah: A Man Called By God

Nehemiah held an interesting position; he was the king’s cupbearer. He was solely responsible for drinking from the king’s cup to ensure it wasn’t poisoned. And if it were, Nehemiah would die instead of ‘His Majesty,’ the king. (How many of you would want to apply for that job?)

As Nehemiah was leading a productive life working for the king, he had a run-in with a group of men from Jerusalem – which happened to be his hometown. Upon asking how the people were faring after surviving captivity, it was realized that they weren’t well off at all. In fact, this experienced dilemma involved a city and a torn-down protection wall.

This circumstance in Jerusalem posed a problem because the walls around any given city were a means of security. They gave the people a sense of preparedness if an enemy approached, and they provided comfort as a boundary from those wanting to enter without invitation. An even more significant concern is that this wall was torn down one hundred twenty years ago and never restored so that you can imagine the fear and distress of the people.

But the problem here isn’t that the wall was in shambles; the problem is that no one stepped in to lead this cause until Nehemiah.

Similarly, nothing has changed in our culture today. Many of us ignore or pass by situations that require action. We claim that they are someone else’s responsibility: the government, the church, the school, or the police. We pass things off because we are too busy or in a hurry. But what would happen if we, like Nehemiah, stopped to consider the burden God placed in our hearts?


Nehemiah saw a problem, surrendered to God’s voice, left his job and home, and took leadership in rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall. And in fifty-two days, he completed something that couldn’t be done in over one hundred years!

Saints, there are things God wants you to accomplish in your lifetimes, but it requires an act of leadership on your part. Together, let’s look at three characteristics of an impactful leader.

3 Marks of a Good Leader

Good Leaders Inquire

“And I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.”

Nehemiah 1:2, NKJV

A good leader looks at the circumstances, pays attention to the concern, and asks questions.

Nehemiah stopped and asked the necessary questions: How are the people who escaped captivity? How is Jerusalem doing?

We live in a society that only cares about ourselves and how things impact us. We have disregarded anything that does not affect our bank accounts, jobs, and families. But as children of the Most High God, we have a responsibility to respond to everything that breaks His heart. One way we can investigate that is by asking questions about the current needs around us.

I suspect that God has placed burdens on your heart. Good leaders don’t just walk by; they ask the right questions.

Good Leaders Empathize

“And they said to me, ‘The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire. So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days.”

Nehemiah 1:3-4, NKJV

Good leaders empathize with others. But what does that mean?

Empathy occurs when someone feels the pain of others. Nehemiah felt so much pain for the circumstances of the people of Jerusalem that the scriptures say he lost the very breath in his lungs.

When was the last time something took your breath away?

All around us, our families, and the people we love are experiencing challenging circumstances. Our marriages are being ripped apart, our children are spiritually lost, and our families are constantly enduring destruction. Are you carrying on through your personal agenda with apathy?

Ultimately, God elevated Nehemiah because he cared. Nehemiah could have continued looking forward, working his good-paying job and staying in the province where he was comfortable. Still, instead, he chose to remember God’s goodness and mercy, and he realized that partnering with Him was greater than anything else this world offers.

I have discovered that when God places a calling upon your life, He gives you a burden, a passion, and empathy for those experiencing that particular concern. And in that space, God will provide you with the grace and strength to lead well.

Good Leaders Approach God

“I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”

Nehemiah 1:4b, NKJV

Poor leadership finds the problem and complains; good leadership seeks God for the solution.

I often receive letters of complaints pertaining to how the First Baptist Church of Glenarden operates. And every time I finish reading someone’s concerns, do you know what I want to ask? “What do you want me to do about it?”

I am not God, and I cannot fix everything. However, many in our congregation hold the solution to the problems addressed. Saints, if a problem is revealed to you, ask God what you should do about it! If He puts it on your heart, He will sustain you and help bring restoration.

Nehemiah realized the problem Jerusalem was facing. He considered the people, had empathy, and took it to God, asking Him what should be done about it. He was a great example of how we should seek God when He moves our hearts to do something.  Good leaders allow God to lead them, and in doing so, the world sees the power and faithfulness of God.

God has called you to lead; will you allow Him to manifest the calling He has placed over your life?

For more on the characteristics of a good leader, watch Pastor John K. Jenkins’ sermon: Marks of a Good Leader.

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