Day 17: The Priests Served Us

Nehemiah 11:22-36, Nehemiah 12:1-26, Isaiah 48:1-11, Philippians 3:18-20


I played football in both my freshman and sophomore years of high school. I quit after my sophomore year because I had not yet hit my growth spurt and didn’t get any playing time. That, and I thought my time would be better spent working a job and hanging out with friends.

Snider High School has had one of the most successful high school football programs in the state of Indiana since the 1980s. Russ Isaacs was an assistant coach from 1983 to 1990, and a head coach from 1991 through 2009, my senior year. He is the winningest football coach in Indiana high school football history with a record of 194–32.

Coach Ike was an incredible coach because he is a remarkable human being. But his success and winning record are a result of an established culture of sound leadership and coaching within his staff. He has left a legacy of leadership in the Snider High School football program. In fact, the team’s current head coach used to work under Coach Ike as his defensive coordinator. When I read the long list of priests in Nehemiah 11 and 12 and the legacy of leadership God established for the people of Israel, Coach Ike and his legacy of leadership come to my mind.

It is tempting to gloss over these two chapters in Nehemiah. It just looks like a list of names, because that’s what it is. But it’s also a lot more than just a list of who’s who. These names found in Nehemiah 11 and 12 reflect a legacy of leadership that the Lord established over His people and for their good.

These men served the people of God, often to their own detriment, and despite other opportunities that may have been available to them at the time. In Isaiah 48, the prophet writes of God’s leaders saying, “For they are named after the Holy City, and lean on the God of Israel” (v.2). God’s leaders must learn to lean on Him for His guidance and leadership, instead of trying to muster it up in their own strength.

Has God called you to lead His people through your local church? Those of us who serve as ministry leaders, pastors, elders, deacons, or in other church leadership roles must understand that our capacity to serve will only go as far as our reliance upon the Lord to carry us. While we are still broken sinners in need of the grace of God to lead us, we must lean on the Holy Spirit for His wisdom and guidance.

Do you lean on the Lord to lead His people? Or do you lean on your own understanding and gifts? May we learn to lead the people of God by relying on the grace of God. And may we leave a legacy of leadership defined by love-fueled service, not pride-fueled greed.

Written by Chris Martin