In every work of God, there comes a point when a leader must ask, “Am I content to move forward in maintenance mode, or will I continue to build?”
In theory, this question sounds simple. Who wouldn’t want to continue building, especially when you are co-laboring with Christ in building that which He has promised to bless?
In experience, however, this question can be challenging. The truth is, building is strenuous. Messy. Tiring. Problem-laden. It draws criticism and stretches you as a leader.
Maintaining, on the other hand, while not necessarily easy, is more predictable. And it certainly is less demanding.
But Christ has plainly stated His intent is—not simply to maintain—but to build: “… I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). And He invites us to build with Him: “For we are labourers together with God…” (1 Corinthians 3:9).
So what does it take as spiritual leaders to move from maintaining to building? What kinds of leaders stay on the construction site, rather than simply occupying office space in the completed structure?
I believe we find the answer to these questions in a leader by the name of Nehemiah. If there was ever a man who was willing to risk anything and give everything to build, it was this man. And from his testimony, we see three vital traits of leaders who go on building:
1. They Build with Prayer
For Nehemiah, prayer was no mere ritual. It was the pouring out of a heart-felt burden. He wept and mourned. He fasted. His was the prayer of an exercised soul, moved with a heart for God’s glory and with compassion for God’s people.
And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,—Nehemiah 1:4
If we are going to build for God, we must do more than talk about prayer. We must pray.
Do you long to see your community reached for Christ? Do you long to see greater spiritual growth in your church? In your Sunday school class? In your bus route? Are you praying for these with fervent intensity? Remember, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
2. They Build with Purpose
No builder worth his license slaps materials together without a goal in mind. For spiritual leaders, we often call this goal “vision.” It’s looking in faith beyond where you stand today to building God’s work for God’s glory in the future.
Nehemiah’s vision was clear: to seek the welfare of God’s people and to build the walls of Jerusalem.
…to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.—Nehemiah 2:10
…come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.—Nehemiah 2:17
Would to God that every city in the world had a leader with the focused purpose of seeking the spiritual welfare of the people in that city!
It’s important to realize that a spiritual leader’s vision is not just a delegation task list. It calls for personal involvement. Nehemiah didn’t just assign work; he led the work.
It was through Nehemiah’s causative leadership with a clearly-stated purpose that others shared his vision: “And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work” (Nehemiah 2:18).
3. They Build with Persistency
Building for God draws criticism. That’s just the way is. I wish it wasn’t so, but personal experience and biblical testimony both verify this fact.
Thus, leaders who build must have persistency. Nehemiah, of course, is legendary for his unwillingness to cave to criticism or compromise for critics.
He was persistent when he was ridiculed (2:19–20), discouraged (4:10–14), and tempted to compromise (6:1–3). In every case, he simply kept building.
The Apostle Paul also shows us what persistence in the face of all kinds of persecution looks like.
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.—Acts 20:24
Nehemiah seemed to be of the mindset that the best way to deal with criticism is to accomplish your task. And accomplish it he did.
I, too, want to accomplish a work for God. I don’t want to be a leader who simply maintains; I want to be a leader who builds.
How about you? Are you maintaining or building?
Becoming a Leader Who Builds
Regardless of what at one time was our heart’s desire to build, we naturally drift to maintenance mode. This is why we must proactively make choices to build.
At Spiritual Leadership Conference 2015, you will find help to build. From challenging Bible preaching to encouraging services to equipping workshop sessions, the conference is all about building as co-laborers with Christ. It is designed to equip you to be a spiritual leader who builds.
Additionally, the preachers and speakers at this years conference are also leaders who build. Their testimony of God’s faithfulness and their practical preaching and teaching will encourage you to—not just maintain—but build for the glory of God.
If you have not yet registered for Spiritual Leadership Conference, I encourage you to do so today! You can register and find conference info, including speaker and workshop lists, at slconference.com.
I’m excited for this year’s conference and the potential it has in strengthening builders’ hands for the work of God. And I look forward to fellowshipping with and meeting men of God who desire to build!