Leaders Are CompassionateSeptember 22, 2016by Rob Globke
You can find the introduction to this series here. It only takes about 5 minutes (maybe three for all you fast readers & skimmers out there!).
- Nehemiah 1:4a -
“I sat down and wept and mourned for days…”
This is the first “real” post in our series. The first time we get a chance to think about a character trait in leadership demonstrated in the life of Nehemiah. Today we look at Nehemiah’s compassion!
When we first meet Nehemiah, we find out that he is a man living in a place that is not his home. He is a stranger in a strange land. He is not living among those he calls family. He is living in exile. And while living in exile he is visited one day by his brother and a group of men from his home country. So, like any good teammate who has been away from the team for some time, he questions his fellow countrymen about how his teammates in Judah are doing and about the state of his home land. Imagine if you were separated from your team for a few weeks, a month, or the whole year and one of your teammates came to see you. You probably want to know how everyone is and how everything is going. And, I’m sure you would hope that the response would be, “Everything is great. We are thriving and doing well. Everyone is having a good time.” You want the best for your teammates after all. You would want to hear good news.
However, this was not the response Nehemiah received. Instead, Nehemiah was told, “those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great TROUBLE & DISGRACE. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned.” (v. 3) In other words, your friends and teammates are in shambles. They are not doing well. They are in misery.
And here we see Nehemiah’s first attribute as a Godly leader. The next verse, Nehemiah 1:4a says,
“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept…”
You might be laughing right now and thinking to yourself, “Leaders don’t cry. Leaders are real men. They are tough. They take charge. They don’t break down over some bad news!” This is what the world wants you to think. Yet, Nehemiah reminds us of a different way. He doesn’t fall into the trap of being a leader the world defines as great. His first action points us to a leader that reflects the God he serves.
When Nehemiah sat down and wept, he showed you and me that a Godly leader has compassion.
There are three things this action showed about Nehemiah’s heart as a leader.
#1 - Nehemiah UNDERSTOOD his teammates
When Nehemiah sat down and wept he was showing his teammates who gave him the bad news that he understood their pain and disgrace. He reminds us that in order to be an effective leader in any situation, we must first seek to understand what our teammates, our friends, our coworkers, and those around us are going through. How else would one know which direction to lead if they don’t first know where they are? Nehemiah’s response was an acknowledgement that he did see and was deeply affected by the state of affairs for those in his homeland.
- Do you even know what is going on in the life of those around you? In the life of your teammates?
- Have you taken the time to understand your teammates and their life?
- When was the last time you sincerely asked one of your friends about how they were doing?
#2 - Nehemiah CARED about his teammates
The second thing we learn from Nehemiah’s example of being a compassionate leader is that he CARED about his teammates. He went beyond “knowing” their situation. The fact that he wept was a good indication that he actually truly had concern at the deepest level for the well being of his people, his team. How many times in life do you ask questions of others without truly caring about their response? How many times have you been asked, “How you doing?” knowing full well the other person is just going through the motions. Isn’t it so much more meaningful when someone goes beyond the question and shows they deeply care? I would argue that having someone like this is an unbelievable thing. I would then turn around and argue that you should try to be this type of leader with those around you. I’m not saying you have to weep at everything you hear, but your heart should be stirred with real concern for your teammates both in and out of the rink.
- Do you truly care about your teammates?
- Do you want the best for your teammates?
- Does it hurt you when something evil happens to those around you?
#3 - Nehemiah was MOVED toward his teammates
Finally, a compassionate leader is not just one who understands or cares for those around them. A compassionate leader is one which takes action. If we understand our teammates and deeply care for them, then it should lead to some kind of action. As much as I want to dive into some of the actions that Nehemiah took out of his concern for his team….I’m not going to do that quite yet. I think this is called a teaser. :-) (Which is something you shouldn’t do in real life by the way. It’s not nice to tease others!). I’m not big on practicing what I preach, so you will just have to wait for the next installments to find out some of the leadership actions Nehemiah takes. But, in the meantime, here a few questions to think about.
- What can you do for your teammates which comforts them and supports them?
- If you were a leader in Nehemiah’s shoes, what would your first action be?