By Rev. Richard Sipley
Pastor, would you like to be the kind of leader God is looking for? I believe you would!
Nehemiah is one of the Bible’s most striking examples of godly leadership. This isn’t some pretty story that was put in the Bible to inspire us. This is real history.
Nehemiah was a man of intense spirituality. The primary distinguishing factor of this man was his relationship with God—it marked his life totally. What I want to do is give you a fast walk through the Book of Nehemiah, bringing out phrase after phrase to show the primary issue in this man’s life—his relationship to God.
Chapter 1, Verse 4, “he fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” That’s the Almighty God, the God who sits on His throne, that’s the God we worship as we sing. The majestic God of the Universe. That’s the one he prayed to. In Verse 5, he said, “Oh Lord, God of Heaven, the Great and Terrible God.” Do you think of God as the Great and Terrible God? When I think that when I stand before God, I will have no other recourse, it makes me very serious! He’s final. There’s nobody else to turn to. What He decides about me is final. He is absolute, and this is the God that he is praying to. The Great and Terrible God. Verse 11, “Oh Lord, I beseech Thee.”
Chapter 2, Verse 4, “so I prayed to the God of Heaven.” Verse 8, “the good hand of my God was upon me.” Verse 12, “what my God had put in my heart.” Verse 18, “I told them of the hand of my God which was upon me.” Verse 20, “The God of Heaven, he will prosper us.”
Chapter 4, Verse 4, “Hear, O our God, for we are despised.” Verse 9 “Never-the-less, we made our prayer unto God.” Verse 14, “be not afraid of them, remember the Lord, which is great and terrifying.” Verse 15, “and God brought their counsel to nothing.” Verse 20, “our God shall fight for us.”
Chapter 5, Verse 9, “shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God?” Verse 13, “God will shake out every man from his house. All the congregation said Amen and praised the Lord.” Verse 15, “I did not do it, because of the fear of God.” There are a lot of things we ought not to do because of the fear of God. You see, his life was just saturated with this. Verse 19 of Chapter 5, “think upon me my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.”I found myself praying that lately.
Chapter 6, Verse 9, “now, therefore, O God, strengthen us.” Verse 12, “I perceived that God had not sent him.” You know, sometimes people come nattering to us and we perceive immediately that God didn’t send them. And sometimes we want to know who sent them. It wasn’t God. Verse 14, “My God, think upon Tobia and Sanbalat.” Verse 16, "all our enemies were much cast down for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.” You see that, his mind is full of this.
Chapter 7, Verse 5, “and my God put it into my heart.”
Chapter 13, Verse 9, “I commanded and they cleansed the House of God.” Verse 11, “I contended with the rulers and said, why is the House of God forsaken.” Verse 14, “remember me, O my God.” Verse 22, “remember me, O my God.” Verse 27, “shall we transgress against our God.” Verse 29, “remember them, O my God.” Verse 31, last verse in the book, “remember me, O my God, for good.”
This man was saturated with God! See, what made him the leader he was—it was his intense spirituality, his relationship with God. God filled his thoughts, God filled his life, God was his strength, God was his love, and God was his passion. Whatever he did, he did it for God. If he had courage, it was because he trusted in God. Every decision he made was based on his fear of, and love for, God. And God was there as his vision and his power and his strength and his excitement and his grace and his wisdom and everything he needed.
Nehemiah was a man of compassion. He wept and mourned before God. He was a man of prayer. He fasted and prayed before God. He was a man of faith. He said, “God will prosper us.” He was a man of humility. He said, “we have sinned, I and my father’s house have sinned, with the rest of the people of Israel.” He was a man of The Word. He said,” remember Your Word, Oh God.” So this man was intensely spiritual.
Woodrow Wilson was a great Christian leader of the United States years ago - a man high in political position, but a man who also walked with God, which was very unusual. He was a sincere Christian, not one that took it on his lips only. He spoke these words about preachers and they are worthy of careful consideration for all who are leaders in the work of God. It’s interesting to have a man in his position say the following: “When I hear some of the things which young men say to men by way of putting the arguments to themselves for going to the ministry, I think they are talking of another profession. Their motive is to do something. You do not have to be anything in particular to be a lawyer. I know, because I’ve been one for years. You do not have to be anything in particular except maybe a kind hearted man to be a physician. You do not have to be anything, or undergo any strong spiritual change in order to be a merchant.The only profession which consists in being something is the ministry of our Lord and Savior. And it does not consist of anything else.”
And I say Amen! And Amen!
Rev. Richard Sipley has been a pastor since 1948. At present he is a “Minister At Large” in the Christian and Missionary Alliance and an Associate Evangelist with the Canadian Revival Fellowship. Mr. Sipley is the author of two books, “Prepare For Revival,” and “Understanding Divine Healing.” He has had a wide ministry as a revival and conference speaker and has preached in eleven countries of the world. Rev. Sipley also served on the Board of Governors of Canadian Bible College and Seminary for many years. During retirement Richard Sipley has served as an “Interim Pastor” in Campbell River and now in Victoria. What began as an interim ministry in Campbell River, turned into a seven year pastorate as Senior Pastor. During that time the church grew rapidly and completed a new building complex for 1,200. The pastoral staff expanded from three to six. For a number of years the church averaged two professions of faith per week. Mr. Sipley, by his request, had his office at home, had no time constraints and would only allow the church to pay him for preaching and acting as a consultant to the board. He continued to be free to carry on his traveling and speaking ministry. He believes this model would work well in other situations if handled properly. He and his wife Anita make their home on Vancouver Island..
We are pleased to have Pastor Sipley share some devotional insights on the subject of leadership from Nehemiah. It is all the more special because he consistently models these principles in his own life ministry.