Nehemiah has been used by Christians and executives alike – the first praising him for his faith, and the second for his leadership skills.
But there are a ton of lessons from Nehemiah that have nothing to do with leadership at all, and everything to do with getting work done, pushing through discouragement, along with others. Below are a few of the most noteworthy.
Take the Reproaches of God Seriously
We live in a world of pseudo-offensiveness. Every time someone says something that we don’t like, we claim to be “offended” and demand an apology. In that sense, “being offended” is less about a Romans 14 issue and more about controlling those with whom we disagree.
The real offense was what Nehemiah experienced when he first heard about the walls of Jerusalem. Shattered and dismayed at the condition of his homeland (and the reputation of God), he fully confessed the sins of his people with an open and contrite heart, and in turn, begging God for forgiveness.
Without feeling the “great distress and reproach” that the nation of Israel was under, he would never have felt the desperate pull to make it right. Having your feelings hurt is one thing, but letting down the One you love is even worse.
Be Honest With Yourself About Your Situation
It behooves all of us at various points in our lives to take a good, long, hard look in the mirror. But as James talks about, what good is it if we look at ourselves in the mirror and instantly forget what we saw? We have to remember first “what kind of person” we really are.
Nehemiah was in the same boat. When he showed up in Jerusalem after spending years in exile, what he came across was a mess. The city was absolutely annihilated from top to bottom, with barely even one brick left on top of the other. To prevent the current inhabitants giving him the “best of” tour — and thus missing all the parts that needed to be seen — he even saddled up his donkey and went out by himself at night.
When he returned, he told the people in charge exactly what the situation was and how it needed to be handled without mincing a single word. They needed to hear the honest truth about their situation so that they could be honest about how to fix it.
A Worker’s Mission Trumps the Worker’s Abilities
Nehemiah had enormous mission ahead of him: Rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, rebuild the city, turn Jerusalem from a reproach of God into a testament to Him.
But who did he have at his disposal to get the job done? The absolute wrong people for the job. Instead of engineers, he had perfumers. Instead of skilled laborers, he had priests. Instead of stone masons, he had goldsmiths.
The reason the wall was built so quickly was not because the workers were extremely skilled, but because their sense of duty and mission were so strong. They poured everything they had into the work because they believed in the work so much.
If you want to accomplish big things for God, you have to commit yourself fully to the work as will. You can’t just sit by and wait for the right opportunities to pass you by, you have to seek them out and set your hand to the task. Only then will you be a vessel that can actually be used for God’s honor.Last modified: September 22, 2021