What Missionaries Ought to know about Leadership

  • Approximate Time Commitment: 20 minutes

What Missionaries Ought to know… does not mean that the author sat down and decided what missionaries ought to know, but that missionaries themselves asked about these topics. During the author’s 35 years of college teaching he learned that if one person asks a question, others probably want to know the same thing—and if two people ask, it was certainly a topic that others need to know about. These are things missionaries need to know because several missionaries have asked about each of them at one time or another.

To read more from the What Missionaries Ought to Know series


Resource Description


Like nearly all missionaries, at some time or other you are in a position of leadership: planting churches, directing a work team, or teaching in school (or Sunday school, or English). You may feel pressure from above to reach goals and pressure from below to help those you supervise meet their needs. What are you to do? In such a position of leadership, Nehemiah gives good answers. Who was Nehemiah? What did he do? How did he lead? When did he lead? Why did he lead? Did he succeed? Although not everyone has the same style and uses the same methods, let us consider Nehemiah as one example of Godly leadership.

Who was Nehemiah?

Like missionaries, Nehemiah was living in another culture, working in a position of responsibility there. He was cupbearer to the king. When visitors arrived from his passport country, he inquired about the people back home and about the capitol city. However, much more important than his occupational title were his personal characteristics. When he heard that the people back home were disgraced and the walls of the city were burned and broken, he wept, mourned, fasted and prayed.

He was:

  • Compassionate. He wept and mourned for his people and his country.
  • Caring. He fasted, prayed and took action, encouraging the people.
  • Committed. He got the job done, cared for his people, and was faithful to God.
  • Consistent. Even those he reprimanded could find nothing negative to say about him.
  • Courageous. He persevered in the face of threats, ridicule, and opposition from both the outside and inside.

For nearly a century some of his people must have said, “Somebody ought to do something about those walls.” Others must have replied, “Nothing can be done.” Because of his character, Nehemiah felt responsible to take some action.


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