- Because they understood. The book of Nehemiah delivers a refreshing image about the value of leadership among God’s people. How can we apply the importance of God-inspired leadership to our fellow Christians today? Do you consider yourself to be one of God’s leaders today? If not, why not? Does God have a leadership role for each of us–in the home? at school? on the job? in church? In the community where we live?
- The influence of leaders. Think of a leader in Bible times who had a negative influence on his followers. Then come up with the name of a leader who inspired God’s people to follow Him. Your lesson lists five leaders who had a good or a bad influence in Bible times. Add a Bible character not on the list who was a wonderful leader of God’ people. Share the contributions of a person today who has been a positive influence on you for a Christ-centered life.
- Leaders of evil in the sight of God. Would you agree that even a devout Christian leader can put stumbling blocks in the path of followers? How could that be? Even worse, can true and dedicated leaders in Christian fellowship turn others away from Christ? What were some fundamental reasons why some of God’s followers rejected God’s teachings presented by the devout leaders Ezra and Nehemiah? Is it true in your church that the most steadfast of your spiritual leaders reap the greatest harvest? What is by far the greatest source of true conversion in our church today? Put another way, what is the only source we dare to follow to receive full conversion and salvation today?
- Courage and empowerment. Read Nehemiah 4:7-23 and ask, “Why didn’t God step in and work a miracle? Why did Nehemiah need to be involved as he was?” Do you see horrible examples of sin around you, perhaps even in your church or your government? Should you “stand still” and let God lead the battle? Or should you get busy and fight sin every way you can and trust God to give you strength to win the conflict? What was the real reason that Nehemiah’s efforts resulted in the failure of his enemies? How does the following verse by the apostle James fit into this story? (or does it?) “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James 2:18. Does this mean we should fight every battle against sin and spiritual error?
- Purpose and passion. What great action did Nehemiah assume as God continued to direct him in the leadership of God’s people? Your lesson states, “Nehemiah appears to be driven by the idea of making a difference in the world.” Do you share a passion with Nehemiah like that? Did Ezra and Nehemiah agree with each other regarding the restoration of the temple? Did a high salary and other compensation help them to direct God’s people in the restoration project?
- Humility and perseverance. Don’t conclude that this week’s lesson covers all of the dramatic events associated with Israel’s return to Judah. Still, there should be enough here to encourage you to study this fascinating time in the history of God’s people and the phenomenal contribution of two of God’s chosen leaders to its success. Ezra turned away from the idea of asking the king for protection, and Nehemiah agreed with this advice. Still, Nehemiah ended up holding the highest position in the Jewish nation and led out in a remarkable way in guiding the people back “home” to Jerusalem. Would you agree, these were two mighty men who worked for God without fear or holding back?