I believe there are some important leadership principles we can gain from the book of Nehemiah. You may wonder what an Old Testament saint could teach us about leadership today, but you’ll discover that these truths are timeless. Nehemiah was both an outstanding spiritual leader and a very good business manager. We can learn a great deal from him.
One of the first principles we learn from Nehemiah is that he knew how to handle bad news. We read in chapter one of Nehemiah that his brother brought him the bad news that Jerusalem’s wall was broken down, its gates had been burned, and those who survived were in great trouble. That would be enough to discourage anyone, but Nehemiah did not fall apart, even at this bad news.
Life is full of bad news—anything from a small disappointment to a catastrophic occurrence. But when bad news comes your way, how do you respond? A strong leader is not only able to take the bad news, but also wants to know it. Sticking your head in the sand is a sure sign of immaturity and a lack of trust in God.
If you are a manager on your job, a leader in your church, or have an influential position of any kind, you need to make certain that people around you don’t hide the bad news from you. Of course, they’ll be more likely to tell you the bad news if they are confident that your reaction will be reasonable and controlled. You can’t let bad news rattle you, or you will lose the confidence of those who look up to you, which will make matters worse.
David had to face many bad-news situations. In one case, he returned with his 600 soldiers to Ziklag and found that the enemy had robbed them of everything and set fire to the city. His men were so upset that they wanted to kill David. But David did not panic. The Bible says simply, “David found strength in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6b). Then he asked the Lord what to do, and under God’s direction, he pursued the enemy and recovered all that was lost.
Interestingly, both David and Nehemiah mourned and wept at their bad news, but they didn’t stay there. They prayed for guidance and obeyed the Lord.
Do you fall into depression when things do not go well? We can learn a very valuable lesson from Nehemiah in how to handle bad news.