Nehemiah – With God’s help
So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God. Nehemiah 6:15-16
Nehemiah is the story of the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem that had been wrecked during the Babylonian siege. The temple had been rebuilt but the city was still exposed. Most people agreed it should be repaired but couldn’t agree on anything else; they couldn’t organize themselves, couldn’t control the naysayers, just couldn’t accomplish anything.
Word of the problems they were having made their way back to Nehemiah, also an exile from Judah, who had been elevated to special assistant to the King of Persia and now lived in the capital city. Nehemiah was an especially gifted man. He was the perfect combination of someone with a heart for God, a humble man who prayed and trusted God, and, a world-class leader, skilled in management, conflict resolution, organization and project development.
Hearing about the situation in Jerusalem broke his heart.
Leaders are often real type-a drivers that seem to operate without emotion, just doing what needs to be done for the sake of the project. Nehemiah was on a different level, he had a heart; first for God, and then for God’s people. Like Ezra, he was uniquely equipped to serve during this historic, prophecy-fulfilling time in Israel’s history.
Books have been written on Nehemiah’s leadership style and organization and many of todays successful leaders would site Nehemiah as an inspiration and key to their own success. If you have been in church for any length of time you have probably listened to teaching on Nehemiah from pastors who sought to rally the congregation to work together for a common purpose, as Nehemiah rallied the people of Jerusalem to build the wall.
Personally, I can relate more with Ezra than Nehemiah. Nehemiah had a skill-set I’ve longed for but that eludes me. Ezra was a priest and a scribe. He was the perfect person to cover Nehemiah spiritually, to pray for him. That’s more my role. I’ll get out there with a hammer and trowel and pitch in as best I can, but the project overwhelms me. Nehemiah can figure out how to use the hammer well enough to train people like me and then move on to the grand scheme.
Nehemiah reminds me of my oldest daughter. She has the same humble spirit and the same God-given knack for putting things in order. Wherever she has worked she almost instantly observes areas of inefficiency or great potential, but not only does she see them, she figures out how to fix them and make the system work better, more efficiently, more profitably. It’s uncanny. It’s a gift. It’s who she is.
When Jesus tells us to ‘deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him.” (See Mark 8:34) He wasn’t telling us to forsake who He gifted us to be. We are to deny the lustful passions of our flesh, the selfish tendencies to live a ‘me first’ life. We surrender our selfish will to Christ and follow Him into a generous life, a caring, outward focused life. With your priorities in place your gifts and natural abilities will be heightened and used by God how they were meant to be used.
Nehemiah gave all glory to God. The impossible was accomplished with God’s help. And this is the key to every talent, skill, gift or natural ability that you have. It is God who equipped you, God who called you, God who sustains you. Work hard, do what you are great at, and give Him the glory.
“…whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him… And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men (Colossians 3:17, 23).