Leadership and Love and Why Nehemiah Had the Winning Formula for Today’s Culture

Leadership and Love and Why Nehemiah Had the Winning Formula for Today’s Culture

I moved to Los Angeles in 1991 to work in the Hollywood film and media industry. The community of believers working in the industry was hidden and suffering from an onslaught of protests done by well-meaning Christians who felt that the programs and content produced in Hollywood in movies and on TV were immoral and evil.

However, there was a remnant of dedicated Christians working in Hollywood. We felt a calling to be here and work within the secular industry and do so with love, care, and excellence even if we had to work in the shadows. God has always left a remnant of His believers to bring light and hope in dark places when others have chosen to run away. As Hollywood industry Christians worked on the many challenging stages, production studios and in offices, things began to change.  Relationships were established and rebuilt on the foundations of love and care. Nonbelievers saw Christians as talented, hard-working professionals willing to go the extra mile. They didn’t fall apart when disruptions and challenges happened but instead loved and cared about them personally. The walls of mistrust fell as caring relationships were built. Many began to see God for who He was – a God of love, peace, kindness, and accepted Him into their lives as “The Author and Finisher of their faith” (Hebrews 12:2). There are now Bible study and prayer groups firmly established on studio and production lots and communities of Christian industry leaders who are changing the landscape within Hollywood.

Christian industry professionals began by choosing to pray. Over the years, their numbers grew into multiple groups of writers, musical artists, students and women’s groups who came together to learn to be leaders of God’s love. Most importantly, these groups allied together and stayed connected to the larger community through events like the National Day of Prayer, the Biola Media Conference and other significant community events.

We saw our individual job placements in the industry as more than just a paycheck. We saw ourselves as God’s lanterns of light and His salt of the earth. We labored to rebuild the walls of love, hope, and friendship. Through the efforts of many groups like the Hollywood Prayer Network, Master Media, The Influence Lab, and many others, Christians in Hollywood have become a large, vibrant and active community that is respected and trusted to intelligently and gracefully engage on moral and cultural questions without condemnation.

It was how Nehemiah led.

Nehemiah prayed and then rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in 52 days when others had failed. The walls he built were for protection, but they were also necessary to create a united faith community. Nehemiah understood he was an enslaved person within a foreign culture (Hollywood’s culture is often alien and not agreeable with Christian values, morals and beliefs). Yet, he became a trusted and mindful leader. His account of the journey of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem is a book to be studied for all Christians wanting to rebuild their communities where God has placed them. His leadership is a lesson on how today’s Church – the body of Christ needs to lead in a world that disdains the word “Christian” because of its history and past poor leadership practices. Just as Nehemiah did, Christians working in the Hollywood industry recognized that it must start with prayer and personal engagement with God and those they work for and with. It begins with building individual relationships at their places of work and learning to be compassionate, mindful leaders.

How do we lead today in Hollywood and the world?

We continue to love, care and live authentic lives. I love what U.K. evangelist Canon J. John says, “None of us have it together, but together we have it.”  First and foremost, it’s about how much we care, because people don’t care how much we know or what we believe until they understand how much we care. “

Each person in Jerusalem rebuilt their personal wall first. They accepted their leadership role and rebuilt their relationship with God one stone at a time. Then, they physically rebuilt the walls, not outside of their neighborhoods or places of work, but at their own home. They weren’t trained construction workers but were priests, merchants, jewelers, masons, craftsmen, artisans, and women who cared. The words “next to him” were used 20 times in the 3rd chapter of Nehemiah. It takes the whole body of Christ to rebuild the walls of our culture. There are lists of responsible leaders who worked on the walls and repaired the gates written in the book of Nehemiah.

Today each person in the Church is indispensable. Each must share the responsibility to repair the walls around them. Covid has changed and disrupted the physical places we are living and the places we work in many ways. Atlanta is now the new “Hollywood South,” and new media and entertainment hubs are in Austin, Dallas, Nashville, Vancouver, and Canada with lots of production still happening in New York, England, Germany, Australia and India. God is enlarging the tent of Christians working in media and entertainment. We each have our place to build the walls of unity and love as never before, and those places are people who are sitting across the desk from you or standing next to you on a production lot.

It takes one person at a time. It takes you!

 

Influence Lab Sponsors Hollywood Prayer Network’s 20th Anniversary Party

Influence Lab Sponsors Hollywood Prayer Network’s 20th Anniversary Party

On August 14, 2021, over 400 people attended the anniversary celebration of the Hollywood Prayer Network in Hollywood, California. Phil Cooke emceed the gala event as the sold-out crowd celebrated 20 years of HPN’s work in the entertainment industry. Additionally, The Influence Lab helped sponsor the event with a booth where our team gave away multiple copies of Phil and Kathleen Cooke’s books to help bring value to the attendees.

“We had a fabulous time and the event was over-the-top successful,” said Kathleen. The event featured red carpet interviews, a live band, 007 VIP Lounge and a “living” chess game with 32 human chess pieces. Besides manning The Influence Lab booth, Kathleen was asked to be a pawn piece for the live chess game as part of the festivities of the evening. (Visit our Facebook and Instagram pages for fun photos!)

Phil and Kathleen have been on the Hollywood Prayer Network’s board for many years and now serve as key advisors. HPN was founded in July of 2001 by Karen Covell, a producer with extensive experience producing TV specials, documentaries and children’s programming, and a member of the Producer’s Guild of America. With the firm belief that Hollywood is not “Sodom and Gomorrah” but rather a “Ninevah” that can be redeemed, HPN’s grassroots prayer ministry led by Hollywood professionals mobilizes Christians around the world to pray for the people who work in Hollywood while also coordinating prayer for Christians working within the film and television industry.

With over 12,000 intercessors and 130 HPN chapters around the world, The Influence Lab was honored to be a sponsor of the anniversary event and come alongside this ministry with our support.

Find out more about the Hollywood Prayer Network here.

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  • Hope 4 Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture (New paperback edition!)
  • Unique: The Ultimate Planner for Creative Professionals

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