What is Quality Leadership?

Though Jesus was the greatest of all, He became a servant.

After decades of espousing the latest in new management techniques, many business consultants are now coming to the conclusion that what most companies need is not more refined management techniques but bold leadership. Men like Lee Iacocca and H. Ross Perot have demonstrated the advantage of decisive leadership over the "paralysis of analysis."

The pages of Scripture likewise attest the virtue of men like Moses, Abraham, Joshua, and Peter, whose courage and faith were vehicles of God's blessing and success on the multitudes who followed them.

Nehemiah--A Bold Leader

Perhaps nowhere is the quality of leadership better exemplified than in the remarkable life of Nehemiah, a quality of leadership we can emulate today regardless of our profession.

As a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia, Nehemiah held a prominent position. When Jews who survived the Babylonian captivity entered the Persian capital, they encountered Nehemiah who inquired of the people's welfare in Jerusalem. They responded that the walls surrounding the city were in ruins, the people were disillusioned and weary, and that the situation was very depressing. That answer launched Nehemiah into a role that saw the dilapidated structure repaired and restored in only fifty-two days--an amazing feat of leadership.

How did he accomplish this feat, and what can we learn from his endeavor?

Ask and Listen

First, he inquired and listened: "I asked them" and "they said to me" (Nehemiah 1:2, 3). Leaders must be willing to investigate and learn, but also be just as keen to hear what others say. The essence of leadership is not simply to achieve our personal objectives but to become servants in seeing the goals of fulfilled. Though Jesus was the greatest of all, He became a servant. The foundation of biblical leadership is the realization that we are first of all called to serve.

Wait and Pray

Second, Nehemiah waited and prayed: "I sat down for many days" (Nehemiah 1:4). Leadership is not impulsive. We must spend time considering the situation, assessing the implications, and allowing our commitment level to grow. Also, bringing the need before God allows us to gain wisdom and discern His guidance.

Formulate a Strategy for Action

Third, Nehemiah developed a plan: "If it pleases the king, [may I have] a letter to Asaph [stating] that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel" (Nehemiah 2:7, 8). Nehemiah determined to approach the king and ask for the tools needed to complete the task. An effective leader takes counsel with others, gathers information, seeks insight, and then formulates a strategy. Goals are established, and timetables are implemented. We must know what we want to do and how we are to do it.

Recognize the Value of Teamwork

Fourth, Nehemiah recruited others to help him. "Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; . . . So they said, 'Let us rise up and build'" (Nehemiah 2:12, 18). Nehemiah knew the task was too large for one man. So he selected able, committed men to assist him. Leadership recognizes the value of teamwork and enlists them in the vision. Leaders don't merely have followers; they also have coworkers who tackle the objective with the same intensity and fervor as the leader.


Fifth, Nehemiah persevered despite numerous obstacles: "So we labored in the work, and half of the men held the spears from daybreak until the stars appeared" (Nehemiah 4:21). Successful leadership keeps everyone's eyes on the goal and refuses to be distracted by obstacles. Perseverance-- the ability to "bear up under the load"--is necessary for leadership to finish the race.

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

Finally, Nehemiah gave proper credit for the fear: "They perceived that this work was done by our God" (Nehemiah 6:16). Leadership that works passes on the praise to others and sees God as the only true source of blessing.

For further insights, read the following passages:

Proverbs 19:20-21
Jeremiah 10:21
Ezekiel 34:1-4
Philippians 3:17
1 Peter 5:3

This material taken from
"PRIORITY PROFILES for Today's Workplace"
Copyright © Charles F. Stanley
All rights reserved
Used with Permission