The book of Nehemiah is an Old Testament account of how God works through and in all situations to meet His divine will and purpose. Nehemiah means "Jehovah comforts" and surely we see in the life of Nehemiah how God uses him and others to proclaim Himself to the world. In spite of the political pressures of serving under a heathen king, God touched Nehemiah's heart and he met the means of the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem. The story is that the city of Jerusalem had been destroyed when the Babylonians sacked the city and defeated the Jews. Because of this, Zion lay in ruins and there seemed to be no possibility of recovery. The wall needed to be rebuilt before they could ever live in security in the city and it is with this backdrop that we see the character of leadership in Nehemiah develop. Nehemiah lived in Persia and served in the court of the king and yet his heart was burdened for the city of Jerusalem and the people there. He was convinced that it was his responsibility to see that the wall was rebuilt and that he should lead that rebuilding project. The rest becomes history, he goes to Jerusalem and rallies, informs, motivates, and organizes the people; then he rolls up his shirt sleeves with them and they rebuild the wall.
These first six chapters show how the job of rebuilding the wall was perceived, how prayers were offered, what leadership sought, and how the project was completed. In 52 days, the wall would be rebuilt and again the safety of the wall would secure Jerusalem as it had before. We can see 7 areas that emulate a leader as shown by Nehemiah. 1) Nehemiah had a passion for the project- Nehemiah could hardly sleep as he pictured the need and imagined himself involved in the process of accomplishing the objective.
In Nehemiah 1:4 we read-So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 2) Nehemiah had complete confidence in God- People who will lead are people who are directly involved in prayer. That is not to say that there may not be times of occasional doubt, however, they do not doubt the invincible commitment to His work in their lives. Nehemiah's life was filled with prayer, silent quiet prayers, short prayers, and specific prayers. We see this is Nehemiah 1:5-11
5 And I said: “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments,
6 please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned.
7 We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.
8 Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations;
9 but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’
10 Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand.
11 O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Prayer is essential for a leader. The leader has a desire to see, to know, to feel the things, which God is doing, and then to be a part of them. 3) Nehemiah had a practical and balanced grip on reality-Look at what is said in Nehemiah 2:17
17 Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.” He kept the people at work, positioned, and guarding. Nehemiah acted, he did not overreact, and he was gracious but unbendingly firm. A good leader maintains the balance between being positive and being aware of the negative. Their heads may soar in the heavens, but their feet stay firmly fixed on the ground. 4) Nehemiah had the ability to motivate others- Without people who needs a leader?
18 And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to this good work. Leaders like Nehemiah inspire others to do their best. There are roles in each of our lives where we are the leader. Home, office, church, social activities. In those situations, do we motivate people to excel? At home our spouse or children. At the office our coworkers or employees. At church our class members or committee members. At social activities, our fellow friends. 5) Nehemiah was resilient and patient through opposition- We can see this in the following accounts found in Nehemiah 2:19
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?”
And Nehemiah 4:1-3
1 But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews.
2 And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?”
3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.”
When the nay-sayers and critics became vocal in the building of the wall, Nehemiah endured. Sarcasm, suspicion, gossip, mockery, threats, false accusations, you name it, none of these things moved him. The best leaders have broad shoulders and have little trouble shrugging off petty offenses. The leader will certainly hear the nay-sayers, “God is not moving, He is not going to move.” The leader is then resilient and will only see God and what He has intended. 6) Nehemiah had a willingness to work hard and remain unselfish-All leaders have at least one thing in common: diligence. Diligence mixed with excellence pays off, as it did for Nehemiah. He was appointed the governor of Judah even before the wall was finished. In the life of a leader, there is never-ending diligence to seek God. Desire to know the what, where, and how God is about His purpose. Once arriving at this point, the leader has done all that is required and then remains quiet for the outpouring of God's handy work. 7) Nehemiah had the discipline to finish the job-Good leaders are good finishers. When the task appears to not be as exciting as it did to start with or the task becomes hard, the leader stays the course. In Nehemiah 6:15 we read that-
15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. Mission accomplished. Good leaders see things through with dispatch, and when the job is accomplished, they celebrate. Nehemiah and those who worked with him, marched, shouted, danced, and sang that the wall had been completed. The songs were songs of praise and the hymns were hymns of thanksgiving to God. Nehemiah is a wonderful example of leadership. Let me share with you as seen from this story of Nehemiah 4 Steps to Accomplishing Anything in Life- 1) Prepare Prayerfully 2) Plan Purposely 3) Proceed Positively 4) Pursue Persistently In closing today: Can you celebrate the accomplishment of what God is doing in your life today? Is the reality of accomplishment a part of your life and walk with God? Leadership doesn't require that you command people, teach a class, be a deacon, serve on a committee. Leadership requires that you walk in the paths of God, revived, experiencing Him daily, and sharing His desire with a world lost without Him. Do we oversimplify leadership by this definition? No, we further define it with the true essence of God's desires for all His people, continual revival, and the redemption of the world.
In God's Grace,