Leadership 52

For most people, learning to deal with adversity is commonplace. It visits us through any number of doorways in our world. But for many, adversity is not the greatest challenge. Promotion is. One writer said that for every ten people who can manage adversity, only one can handle promotion well.

Nehemiah was promoted. There was no fanfare; no election or pesky campaign commercials or slogans. It was a seamless transition with a lot of detail omitted, from manager of the construction of the wall of Jerusalem to appointment (obviously from Artaxerxes himself) to the position of governor of the now rebooted Jerusalem.

Promotion requires preparation but not always through the normal or expected channels. Nehemiah had no university degree with a major in political science. We have many who are well-educated occupying roles of leadership. They just aren’t doing it well. Education alone does not make us right for promotion. He was not a lawyer, a legislator or a high profile personality. He was simply… a leader. As is true of some, his credentials were earned in the trenches of years of listening… and learning how to lead from the most powerful man on the planet in those days. His leadership lessons (as is true most times) were more “caught” than “taught.”

And he proved himself in the field. He was worthy of his designation as governor. With the exception of Sanballet, Tobiah, and Geshem and their buddies, he seemed to be both loved and respected by the majority of the people. And he handled his promotion well.

  1. He never forgot that he was a servant to the people not an autocrat assigned to rule over them. Like our Lord Jesus, Nehemiah had no problems getting his hands dirty with the problems and pains of his people. Jesus said, “I have come to be a servant, not to be served.” So did Nehemiah.
  2. His promotion was never celebrated in his memoirs. There was no moment of celebration or partying. He simply mentioned he had been appointed governor.
  3. He modeled concern for the people. He mentioned that he would not take “the governor’s portion” (a tax) to feed his staff and those in government with him. He did this out of his own pocket. He would not profit during the misery and suffering of his people.
  4. He didn’t stop leading even though he had “arrived.” He didn’t delegate his responsibilities or seem to do anything differently after being appointed governor than before. While delegation is an important task to learn in leadership, Nehemiah understood the extremity of the time. He stayed in the trenches with the troops while things were uncertain and difficult for the people.
  5. He led… by example. There was no of seeking privilege from his role. He led well… and if you didn’t like his speeches, then watch his life!

Promotion causes weaker people to stumble. The air at the top is rarefied but the honor that comes with leadership also comes with seductions and opportunities to fail with a bigger spotlight on you! If you are promoted, thank God for it. And make sure it becomes and remains a privilege to serve those you lead…

and not an opportunity to serve your own purposes.


FOR MEDITATION: From the time I was appointed governor of Judah… neither I nor my brothers ate the governor’s provision.
Nehemiah 5:14

FOR REFLECTION: How do you handle promotion? If you have been promoted, what are the unique challenges you must confront in your new role that are different from those before your promotion?

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