More Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah

By Chad Hershberger

One of the most important things about camp is that we work hard to build community. It works so well sometimes that people feel a sense that when they are at camp, they are “home.” Or they refer to camp as their second home.

We’ve been looking at some leadership lessons from the book of Nehemiah. Before we move ahead, let’s continue to look at some learnings from the second chapter.  In the book, “Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary,” the author lists three principles we should consider and one of those is that leaders build community. We’ll get to that in a bit.  But first…

Leaders Leverage Their Power

As leaders, we must get our followers to do stuff. We must influence people to participate in our ministry. Nehemiah did this when he used his position to include the king, getting a leave of absence, getting letters of recommendation, and getting building materials. How do we use our position and our contacts to get things done for our camps?

Leaders Conduct Research

We must know where we are going. As we map out how we will get there, we need to do research. We just can’t say, “Siri, build me a new dining hall.” Siri might be able to look up some potential plans, though.  Research is important. Nehemiah did this by looking at his task at hand and surveying what needed to be done. Then, he formulated some strategies and began to work his plan.

Leaders Build Community

Instead of having an “us” versus “them” attitude between leaders and their followers, it’s important to build community so that both feel like they are on a team. Nehemiah gathered people and gave a speech to mobilize the people around the building project. He also used words like “we” and “us” when talking about the task at hand. Clearly, he saw this as a group effort and tried to bridge any divides in class structure that might be perceived.

Getting people involved, doing your homework, and building a community are important tasks that leaders need to attend to. Nehemiah did this as he prepared to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.  How you do these things as you lead your latest “big projects?”

During the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of thoughts ran through my mind as I watched colleagues who are struggling. We dealt with issues that we did not have precedent for. Income sources dried up overnight and staff had be laid off. In situations like those, I try to look at where the good is and where God is in all of this. And so, I learned three things that I feel are key to leadership:

  1. Be positive. Being a voice of reason with a positive message is something that I feel helps us.
  2. Look outward. How do we continue to serve our communities?  Don’t lose sight of our overall missions and ministries!
  3. Display creativity. When I was a camp counselor, I won the Jim Henson Award one year for being creative.  I consider myself a creative person.  And so, I try to use that creativity to find ways to continue to do things we usually do, just in a different way.  Creativity can help us connect us together in new and exciting ways.

How do you achieve positivity, an outward mindset, and think in new, creative ways? That’s where God is in all of this. The Spirit is working through leaders, lifting up new and exciting possibilities. We don’t need to look at the book of Nehemiah to get some leadership lessons right now. Look around you—they are everywhere!