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Effective Leadership Has God's Provision (2010) | Print |
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Series: Nehemiah: Effective Leadership for the 21st Century (Week 1 of 2)
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
September 23, 2010

Woodrow Kroll: When God gives you a specific assignment, He'll also open the doors to that assignment.

Tami Weissert: But more often than not, you'll still have to ask for help.

Woodrow Kroll: Yes, and that's not easy. So stay tuned to pick up a few pointers from today's study in Nehemiah. Hi, I'm Woodrow Kroll.

Tami Weissert: I'm Tami Weissert.

Woodrow Kroll: And this is Back to the Bible.

Tami Weissert: Wood, most of us have never taken a Leadership 101 or 102 class, but that's what's so great about Nehemiah. He wasn't formally trained either.

Woodrow Kroll: He really wasn't. Nehemiah was a man of very humble position in life. He was the cupbearer before the king, and yet because he was right with God, God was able to train him to be a very able, in fact a very important leader. Not only that; God saw to it that Nehemiah's story would be recorded as sort of a training manual for the rest of us.

Tami Weissert: Today, we come to a part of leadership that many of us would just as soon shy away from and that's asking for help.

Woodrow Kroll: And particularly resources.

Tami Weissert: Which is really a hard thing to do. So Wood, why do we struggle with this so much?

Woodrow Kroll: Tami, I think as Christians, we have a humble, built-in aversion to asking for money for ministry. But the fact of the matter is all ministry takes money. Every time I send a letter to our friends or mention on the radio that we are a listener-supported ministry, I get some negative feedback from a few people who say I should never mention our financial needs. Why?

The Bible is filled with people who relied on the financial help of others. The apostle Paul was particularly thankful for the Philippians because of their generosity to his ministry.

Ministry doesn't just happen. God wants us to be honest in mentioning our needs to those who can help. Nehemiah certainly did.

Tami Weissert: So asking for help and resources. Not the most natural thing for us. But as we'll see in today's study, God offers us the freedom to ask for the help we need. So let's find out what it means to ask others and to trust God for the provision. Here's Dr. Kroll with today's Back to the Bible study.

Woodrow Kroll:  Have you ever had the opportunity in your life to think God wanted you to do something and then you prayed and said, "Lord, is this what You want me to do?" and the answer was "yes." And you didn't know what to do? 

I mean you kind of expected God would put a damper on your plans. And when I think of that, I think of Nehemiah because Nehemiah was nobody. He was a cupbearer. He was the person who brought the cup to King Artaxerxes.

His story is recorded in Nehemiah. And that's what we are studying this week. We are looking for lessons that we can learn and apply to our own leadership styles of the 21st century. Nehemiah was a very effective leader. But he was not trained as a leader. He became a leader because he was right with God.

Well, we've made our way in the story of Nehemiah to chapter 2. And I want you to see specifically what Nehemiah does in chapter 2.

Now, just think with me what we have learned so far. Nehemiah is in the Persian Empire, and Artaxerxes is the king. Nehemiah is in his presence every day because he is the cupbearer. He takes the wine to the king.

But Nehemiah gets this news flash from one of his brothers that Jerusalem is in terrible shape, and it needs some attention. So, Nehemiah prays; he fasts; he weeps; he asks God what he could possibly do. And God opens the door for him.

Well, he opens the door through King Artaxerxes. The king sees Nehemiah is sad. He says to Nehemiah, "Why are you sad? You're not sick. Why are you sad?" 

When God opens the door through the king, Nehemiah says "I've got to go through it." He prays and asks God, "What must I do?"

Now, here's what I want you to see. Let's come back here in our story to chapter 2, verse 5. Look what it says in Nehemiah 2:5. After Nehemiah prays and says to God, "What do you want me to do?" he says to the king, "If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask you to send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' tombs, that I may rebuild it."

Now, this is kind of like having salt and pepper on the same table. They do different things, but they are both good for us. Well, maybe not good for us. But they are both helpful in eating.

Notice how gentle he is with the king. He doesn't demand anything of the king. He's not in a position to demand. He's a slave.

So it says, "He asks the king." He says to the king, "If I've found favor in your sight," now I think he suspects he has; but he's being respectful to the king. And then he lowers the boom. He says, "King, if I have found favor in your sight, I'd like you to send me back to Jerusalem. I believe God is calling me to go back to Jerusalem and help rebuild the city."

Now, that could fly right over our heads pretty quickly so I want to stop here and think about this for just a minute. When Nehemiah says, "Send me back to Jerusalem" what is he asking for? Yeah! He's asking for money.

The word that is used here in Hebrew is the Hebrew word shalach. And it means "to impel or to extend." It's the word you ask for when you are hitting your mother and father up for some money. When you say, "Send me to camp," you don't mean "Put me on a bus"; you mean, "Pay my way to camp." And exactly the same thing is happening right here.

Nehemiah, a slave, is asking the king to pay the bill for him to go back to Jerusalem. Now, I want to tell you something. If you are not convinced you are God's man and you are not convinced you are right before God, you had better not do something this stupid.

But when you are convinced that you are the right woman, you are the right man, you are right before God and God has given you a mission--and the king opens the door, Nehemiah is emboldened to say, "I don't have any money. I'm going to need you to send me back to my hometown."

Now, you know what I found in my own life? Hudson Taylor used to say that God's man doing God's work in God's way will never lack God's provision. I've learned in my own life that my responsibility is not to have money. My responsibility is to have clean hands and a pure heart, and then to let God work out how the money I need to accomplish the mission He gives me can be found so that the mission can be accomplished.

Tami Weissert: Need some pointers for effective leadership in the 21st century? Then stay tuned to our study in Nehemiah here on Back to the Bible. Up next, Dr. Kroll gives us a personal illustration of God's provision.

Woodrow Kroll: When I was a senior in high school, my older brother who is a pastor today, my older brother was two years in college. And he felt God was calling him to go to France as a missionary. So, he and I quickly hit the old deputation trail and started to raise some funds for him to go to France. In six weeks time, we had raised all the money he needed to go to France. God was very good.

But the advice--now this was in back 1960, 61, 62 somewhere back in there, when he got the information from his friends in France that he was going to join, the information was, "Look you need to bring a lot of things with you because France is a wonderful country, but if you are looking to read books in English, they don't have any here. They are all in French." Of course he was going to do his work in french. But they said, "If you want your milk pasteurized, they don't pasteurize milk here. Bring your own pasteurizer."

Well, my father just happened to have a pasteurizer that he didn't need. And they said, "Oh, by the way, the beds here are just awful. If you really want to sleep at night, bring your own bed." So, when my brother went to France, we built a crate. And in that crate was everything he owned. We took him to the dock at New York, put him on a ship and sent him to France.

Now, he's got a problem. He has a crate he can't possibly lift. He has a crate he can't possibly get anywhere. And he's going to dock at La Havre, a seaport in France. But he's going to live in Paris. And he has no way to get this crate from the dock to the capital city.

So, when he gets to France, he is still saying "Lord, what am I going to do? I can't afford to truck this to Paris. I can't afford to ship it to Paris. I can't take all these things out one by one and take them. What am I going to do?"

When he got to Paris, the French customs official said to him in french, of course, "What's in the box?"

He said, "My bed."

They said, "Yeah right. What's in the box?"

He said, "No, no, really, it's my bed. And I have some books in there. And I have a pasteurizer in there."

The French customs officials said, "Come on, now. Be serious. What's in the box?" 

He said, "No, no, open it up."

This is what they told him. They said, "No, because it's a crate and not a suitcase, we're not allowed to open it."

So, the French Government shipped his crate to Paris where they could open this box to find out that in the box was his bed and his books and all the things he said was in the box. The government paid for him to get his box where he needed it to go.

Now, here's what I want you to learn from that. Funding is the least of our problems when God gives us a mission. God will find a way to fund what He wants to bless.

So, Nehemiah is looking for leadership. And he needs God's provision. And he knows that if he is right before God, he does right before God, God is going to provide the funds that he will need. And He does it, interestingly enough, He does it through the king himself. So, he asks the king for full funding for his rebuilding project. I mean full funding. Look at the next verse.

Chapter 2:6 "So the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), 'How long will your journey be? And when will you return?' So it pleased the king to send me; [there's that word that means money] and I set a time."

Now, the king knows that he wants Nehemiah to return. He also knows that Jerusalem is on Nehemiah's heart. So, he gives Nehemiah a leave of absence. He doesn't just release him from his responsibilities. He gives him a leave of absence, and he says, "When will you come back?" And they set a time.

Now, this is putting pressure on Nehemiah to be honest and have integrity before the king.

So, here's what Nehemiah does. As a leader thinking that God's going to make his provision for him, he asks for full funding from the king; he asks for a leave of absence from the king; and, oh, by the way, he happens to be a slave, not an emissary of the king, so in verse 7 he says, "Furthermore I said to the king, 'If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they may permit me to pass through till I come to Judah.'" 

He needs a passport. He needs letters to those who are in control of the land on the other side of the river. The king says, "I can do that. I am, by the way, the king." See everything he needs he's asking the king to provide because he believes God has given him a mission.

Now, I am not at all ashamed to ask people to help me in a mission I believe God has given me to perform. What I have to make sure is, first of all, I'm right before God because I don't think God will ever bless any ministry or any person who is not right before God.

But if I am right before Him and God has given us a specific mission and God has opened the door, I'm not at all shy in saying to people, "Join me in this mission" because I know that's the way God does things.

Now, look also at what he does here. He not only needs diplomatic documents. He needs something very, very specific. He needs to be able to get to this land of Judah on the nickel or the dime or the dollar or whatever they used in those days (on the back of the king). If God doesn't open the door, Nehemiah isn't going anywhere.

Tami Weissert: Tami here. Thanks for being a part of today's Back to the Bible study of Nehemiah with Dr. Kroll. You know what? I just love what's going on here. God has the whole thing worked out for Nehemiah--the right timing, the right conversation, open doors, now even the paperwork. But He only unfolds the plan and provision for Nehemiah one step at a time. That's tough because it's really an exercise of trust on Nehemiah's part.

Woodrow Kroll: It really is and that's the other side of the equation when it comes to funding. Nehemiah had no control over the king's resources. All he could do is make his needs known and then trust God. That's what we always do in ministry today. We let our needs be known to those who benefit from our ministry and then we simply have to trust God. In fact, the king didn't even benefit from Nehemiah's ministry, but Nehemiah trusted God anyway.

Tami Weissert: This idea of asking others to help is biblical. Yet we come at it so many times in a timid way, a fearful way--almost like we're ashamed.

Woodrow Kroll: And that may be because there are always people who abuse a sacred trust. They promise people if they plant a seed in their ministry, those seeds somehow will help them to grow rich. That's not God's way of doing things. It's just the opposite way. Others don't use what God provides through people wisely. They're just not good stewards of the sacred trust and that's what makes people fearful to give and others fearful to ask.

Tami Weissert: As Back to the Bible continues today, I want tell you about our free monthly devotional, Meet with God. This is what Jean from Virginia had to say about that:

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We certainly have more to learn from Nehemiah, so here again is Dr. Kroll with out Back to the Bible.

Woodrow Kroll: Now, we've been thinking about effective leadership and how God makes provision for us when we are doing the right thing. As I said Hudson Taylor's great expression "God's man doing God's work in God's way will never lack God's provision." 

I have had occasions and probably you have as well where I thought I was doing the right thing. I had a great idea, and God never sent a nickel for that idea. I said, "OK, God that's fine." There will be another idea probably in a few minutes and maybe that will be what God wants.

Well, Nehemiah is that way. Nehemiah is a leader. And he is looking for the door to be opened. And he goes to the king and he says, "I need you to send me. And, oh, by the way, not only do I need you to send me, I need you to give me a leave of absence so I can go; and not just a leave of absence, I also want you to provide for me, a slave, a passport. I can't get a passport, I'm just a slave in a foreign society. But you could give it to me. You could give me the letters." That's not all.

Look at this, verse 8, it just gets better and better. He says, "Also, I want a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and, oh yeah, let me throw this in, too, and for the house that I will occupy."

You have got to like this Nehemiah character; don't lose what he is doing here. He asks for the king to pay for his airfare, if you will, to get to Jerusalem. It's probably donkey fare. But he asks the king nonetheless. He asks the king to give him a leave of absence, he asks for the diplomatic release that he needs; passports; and now he's asking for a blank check to get from the keeper of the king's forest all the timber he needs--the timber not just to help out in the Citadel and the city wall but also to build himself a house.

Now, don't get the order reversed. He doesn't say, "I'm going to build myself a really nice place; and if there's a little money left over, I'm going to do the work of the Lord." I have to tell you--and it's to our shame that there are a lot of people in Christian ministry today who have built themselves a pretty nice place; and if there's any left over, it goes to the work of the Lord. That's not effective leadership.

Effective leadership is leadership that doesn't mind asking for the materials to build with. But if you are God's man and you know you are right before God and you are in the right place at the right time and you are receiving God's provision, you get pretty bold to ask for things you probably wouldn't ordinarily ask for. And Nehemiah does that. He isn't done yet.

Look at verse 9: "Then I went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me." 

OK, let's think about what he's asked for. He has asked for Artaxerxes to pay the bill for him going back; he's asked for Artaxerxes to give him a leave of absence; he's asked for Artaxerxes to provide a passport for him. Now, he asks for Artaxerxes to pay for all the building materials he needs.

And the only thing he gets that he doesn't ask for is something Artaxerxes throws in for free. And here it is: He sent the captains of the army and horsemen with him. He gets Secret Service to go with him. He gets the army to go with him. This is unrequested bodyguards.

Now, here's what I learned from this: If you want to be an effective leader in the 21st century, you need to be bold in what you ask for as long as you are sure you are right before God and have the right mission.

But when you are bold in asking for things, the chances are you will never ask for too much, but you may ask for too little.

Suddenly Nehemiah gets something he didn't even ask for because the good hand of God is on him. And he just doesn't know how strong that good hand is.

If there is a mistake you and I make in serving the Lord, it's that when we know what we are doing is right, when we know what we are doing is going to be blessed of God--we don't ask people enough to participate in that with us.

Here the king is willing to send an armed guard, and he didn't even ask for that. This is that little bit of extra that comes when God is making provision fjor you.

So, of all the lessons I learned about effective leadership for the twenty-first century, I think one of the key lessons is if God gives me a mission and I am looking for someone to open doors for me and God opens those doors and I am looking for someone to make provision for me to accomplish what God challenges me to do, I should never be ashamed in asking others to join me in that mission. Why?  Because I know I can't do it myself.

Why should the blessing only be Nehemiah's?  Why should it not be the king's as well?

Tami Weissert: That's a great question to finish our Back to the Bible study today with Dr. Kroll. So Dr. Kroll, how about it: How was the king blessed?

Woodrow Kroll: In a variety of ways, maybe not quite as evident as one would think. First of all, he invested in an oppressed people. That's always a blessing. But secondly, the Bible tells us later in the story that he got his trusted servant back. Nehemiah lived up to his part of the bargain. That meant that the king could trust him even more. So the king was doubly blessed at this point.

Tami Weissert: All right. Wood, it's hard to ask for resources--for money. We want to be free and forthright in asking and yet humble at the same time. How do we accomplish that?

Woodrow Kroll: I think you have to know who you are. You have to be certain that you have clean hands and a pure heart. You have to know that there is no hidden agenda in your life, no unconfessed sin in your life. You have to know that even though you are not personally worthy of anything, you represent a cause, you represent a ministry that is worthy. And you're not asking for yourself anyway. You ask for the sake of continuing the work of God.

Look, we're all going to leave behind everything we have anyway. By asking people to invest in ministry, you are actually giving them the opportunity to let their present gifts translate into eternal rewards and that's a worthy thing all by itself.

Tami Weissert: Hi, this is Tami. I hope you're enjoying our series, Nehemiah: Effective Leadership for the 21st Century. Right now when you order this two-week series on CD, you'll also receive a bonus study guide. The study guide was created specifically to compliment everything you hear in Dr. Kroll's radio teachings. And it goes beyond learning the leadership principles of Nehemiah. It actually helps you apply those principles.

So give us a call to order the entire two-week series CD, complete with a bonus companion study guide. That's Nehemiah: Effective Leadership for the 21st Century on CD with the bonus study guide. To order, call 1-800-759-2425.

Well, we've seen how God provided for Nehemiah and it would be nice to end here on an upbeat note. But Wood, there are problems around the corner.

Woodrow Kroll: Oh, there sure are. You watch those one hour television programs and about 20 minutes in, things are going so well, you say, "This can't end well," because you know bad things are going to come. We see the same thing in the story of Nehemiah. All this week, we've been talking about effective leadership for the 21st century and we've been getting our understanding of effective leadership from this man Nehemiah who lived in the fifth century B.C. But Nehemiah went through some things we all will go through and that is effective leadership always has some sort of opposition. And in Nehemiah's case, it was not just opposition; it was ridicule as well.

So tomorrow here on Back to the Bible, we're going to focus on the opposition that Nehemiah faced, the ridicule that he had to endure simply because he was doing the work of the Lord. Listen, friends, if you're going to do God's will, you can expect there will be some sort of opposition. How do you respond to that? We're going to ask that question tomorrow, right here on Back to the Bible. Plan to be with us, won't you?

Thanks for dropping by today. God bless you. I'm Woodrow Kroll and my prayer is the same for you every day at this time: that you would have a good and godly day, for of what lasting value is a good day if it's not also a godly day?

Scripture used in today's program was based on the New King James Version of the Bible.

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