So we rebuilt the wall until the entire wall was joined together up to half its [height], for the people had the will to keep working. – Nehemiah 4:6
Many have written about the leadership principles contained in the Book of Nehemiah … including me. And why not? The man did his job well and he did it in obedience to God. For me, one of the clearest examples of Nehemiah’s leadership acumen was seen in the passionate diligence of those who actually did the work. The biblical record indicates that they “had the will to keep working” and did it wholeheartedly as a unit.
So what does the way the people worked have to do with Nehemiah’s leadership? As a leader (and strategist), he allowed each member of the construction “team” to work in an area that held their greatest interest and concern (according to their passion), which included protection of their personal home and family. Of course, individual safety could only be guaranteed if the person working next to you also performed well and this “strategy” created the linkages that bound the unit together. When the work of everyone else has an effect on your success (and the success of the entire project) then you want to encourage the best in one another.
Community (and camaraderie) is often discovered in the areas of common interest we share, but it must also be wrapped in an all-encompassing goal that is bigger than individual concerns. Good leaders see this, capture it, and communicate it for greater effectiveness and success.
The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet. – Theodore Hesburgh
So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” – Nehemiah 6:3
Leaders have to make a lot of decisions and often the most important decision a leader must make is between choices that are either good or best. This is further complicated by others’ definitions of these concepts and the leader soon realizes that what is “best” looks different for most people.
For the leader who is seeking to accomplish God’s mission, there is the added influence of our common enemy (the Accuser) to keep him from those activities that truly make a difference. It is here that “busy” often replaces “vital,” ministry is often replaced by program, and the selfish needs of an individual can hinder the effective service of a multitude. Good leaders know how disruptive distractions can be and deftly maneuver through them to remain on task. They understand themselves (weaknesses and strengths), they know their organization, they are bound to achieve God’s purposes, they are aware of the enemy’s tactics of diversion … and they humbly move through inevitable failures that God might always be glorified.
It will never be easy to lead, but great work demands great leadership. Be one.
You can always find a distraction if you’re looking for one. – Tom Kite (professional golfer)
While he was facing the square in front of the Water Gate, he read out of it from daybreak until noon before the men, the women, and those who could understand. All the people listened attentively to the book of the law. – Nehemiah 8:31
I don’t believe it is possible to have a spiritual awakening apart from an accompanying re-commitment to God’s Word (the Bible). When we read the story of Nehemiah, we may focus on the wall reconstruction (a great accomplishment), but unintentionally gloss over the importance of the spiritual renewal that followed that laborious task.
With great wisdom, Nehemiah realized that even if the new citizens of Jerusalem rebuilt the outer wall, they would also need to rededicate themselves to God’s truth if they truly intended to survive. With this in mind, he brought in Ezra (a respected teacher and spiritual leader) to lead the people back to this necessary foundation.
Woe to the nation that creates great physical defenses, yet forgets to address the moral character of its people. Though it may be protected from the enemy outside, the enemy within will ultimately win the day … and said nation will ultimately perish.
A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan. – Martin Luther King, Jr.