Dee Stokes

The “Layman” Who Rebuilt Jerusalem

By virtue of my experience and education, I consider myself a “leadership expert.”

Not that it means anything to you or I other than, I am passionate about leadership. We need better, fiercer, more anointed, more dedicated, more focused, leaders who care about others and the work.

Let me fill you in on a secret, because you were made in God’s image and likeness, YOU. ARE. A. LEADER.  

Recently, the Lord has pricked my heart to go back and study the life and work of Nehemiah to be able to minister more to people in the marketplace. I found a wonderful little book and began to read. 

I almost fell off my chair when it read that Nehemiah, get this, WAS A LAYMAN! I had never really realized that he was not a priest like Ezra, nor a scribe, nor a prophet, apostle, evangelist, pastor, or teacher (even though we are all 5-fold ministers according to Ephesians 4). He was a faithful follower of God who worked in the marketplace as a cupbearer. 

Nehemiah was a layman. Click To Tweet

We use the term laity for these kinds of folks. The term sometimes is used in a not so nice way in order to demean those in the pews and further separate those of us called “clergy” from others called “laity.” This is why God has given me this task of encouraging marketplace ministers to take their place. He has shared with me, that they/we have all the tools we need (spiritual gifts/everything for life and godliness-II Peter 1.3) to be able to do the work. All they/we need is ENCOURAGEMENT! So, let me encourage you…

Nehemiah knew God’s voice…he was obedient to the call God placed on his life. He immediately responded by praying and fasting for direction. Side note: We can’t do anything without prayer and fasting and some things can only come out through prayer and fasting (Matthew 17.21). Nehemiah never hesitated to do what God was wooing him to do. Don’t think you are too old, not educated enough, or not ready to start and lead a Fresh Expression. You already have what you need and God is calling you to do it, so why don’t you say yes?

Nehemiah went to Jerusalem with a solid plan, and when the enemy came to discourage him and the people, Nehemiah told the people to have a weapon in one hand and a tool in the other…keep working and stay focused. No matter the hardships in your FX, keep working. Have your Bible in one hand (that’s your weapon), and free the other hand up to do the work of the ministry. Find an inner circle who can support you and pray for you, and GET. TO. WORK.

Nehemiah and Ezra (the priest and scribe) were a great team! Nehemiah handled the workplace/practical stuff, while Ezra handled the spiritual stuff. You don’t need a title or ordination by man to do the work of ministry, because God has already equipped, ordained, and given you a title. Now it is time to do the work. Find a great team of people who can catch hold of the vision and run with it.

Be encouraged as you partake in this journey; the reward is outstanding… “I consider that the present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8.18, NIV)! Be. Encouraged.

Dee Stokes

Dee Stokes

Dr. Dee Stokes is a spiritual advisor, coach, and educator who focuses on ministry, purposeful leadership, and education in an effort to "Build Influential People Who Change the World." Dr. Stokes spent 18 years as a basketball coach, and has spent the better part of 10 years in ministry and teaching at the collegiate level. Although not roaming the sidelines, she still has a passion for athletes, coaches, and the game she loves: Basketball. Her passion allows her to impact coaches and stay involved in the game.


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