Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
February 23, 2014
Progress requires visionary leaders
nation can grow stronger without visionary leaders who can inspire people to
sacrifice. America became a great nation
because of visionary leaders like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas
Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. They inspired the people to make the sacrifices
necessary for progress.
is presently a bad word. In recent years no candidate for the presidency has
been willing to call upon our people to sacrifice. The implication is clear: no
one using the word sacrifice could hope to be elected. The mood of our citizenry
is mostly materialistic and selfish. People want a president who will make life
like nations, need visionary leaders who understand the relationship between
progress and sacrifice. The way of Jesus is the way of sacrifice. When it comes
to sacrifice, Jesus is our prime example. But there are others, especially in
the Good Book. In one sense the Bible is a leadership manual. In its pages we
find many examples of visionaries, men and women, who led God’s people forward.
We can learn from them how to lead. Take Nehemiah of the Old Testament for
the days of Nehemiah cities without walls were indefensible. Strong walls were
necessary for protection. Seventy-five years after the return of the exiles
from captivity, the walls of the city of Jerusalem were still in ruins. The
once proud gates of the city had been burned.
got sick of looking at the dilapidated walls of the holy city. He decided
something had to be done. So he devised a plan and executed it. His visionary
leadership led to the rebuilding of the wall. We can learn helpful lessons by
studying Nehemiah’s strategy.
he saw the need. Then he took his concern to God. He fasted and prayed about
what to do. Here is a great lesson. Often when we recognize a need, the first
thing we do is complain about the problem. A wiser response would be to take
our concern to God in fasting and prayer. Complaining seldom produces positive
results. But a man with a plan authorized by God can usually get things done.
realized that he could not fix the problem without God’s help. So he prayed
until God gave him a passion for rebuilding the wall. He prayed until he was in
synch with God. When he told people God wanted the wall rebuilt, his appeal had
an authentic ring. Our leadership can become effective when we take this same
Observe that Nehemiah did not rush off to repair the wall
by himself. After taking the problem to God in prayer he came up with a plan of
action. He realized that God had placed him in a strategic position as the
king’s cupbearer. He had served the king faithfully. The king trusted and cared
for Nehemiah. And he discerned that the sadness on Nehemiah’s face was caused
by sadness in his heart.
used the respect he had earned to win the king’s approval for rebuilding the
wall. He realized that the resources he needed for his project were at hand.
Wisely he gained the help of both God and the king before making his appeal to
the people. Here is another fine lesson. Often the resources we need to do the
will of God are already with us. We have but to see them and claim them. Wisely
Nehemiah saw that the support of the king was the result of “the gracious hand
of God” upon him.
Nehemiah appeals to the people he calls the community together, including the
leaders, priests, and ordinary citizens. He casts the vision with passion and
confidence. His speech is electrifying. The people are ready to respond. With
conviction they say, “Let us start building!” So the work began and soon the
job was done – all because one man had a vision. Was their work easy? No. Did
it require sacrifice? Yes. But together they got the job done.
and churches need visionary leaders who can inspire people to roll up their
sleeves and go to work. Often only one voice is necessary to stir people to
action. Each of us must ask God to clarify our role. He may call us to cast the
vision. Or he may call us to be like Aaron and Hur
and hold up the hands of our leader.
know the will of God may require fasting and prayer. This much is certain: we
do not want to found sitting on our hands when God has called us join the team
that is doing his work. When the vision
is cast, let’s not quibble about why it cannot be done. Let’s respond eagerly
and say as the Israelites did, “Let’s get started!” + + +