Nehemiah the Man… Part 1

Often when a story like that of Nehemiah and his rebuilding of the wall and the nation is read or retold the tendency is to be drawn to his achievements. We tend to measure success by what was done or built etc. Years ago a good friend told me ‘people don’t really remember what you have done they remember how you lead.’   He was saying people remember how you treated them and the manner and character of you as a leader. They view leadership through their personal interaction with you not the list of boxes you’ve ticked or achievements you’ve piled up. Not even the number of titles you’ve won really matters when people remember just who you are.

However God looks at the heart… 1 Sam 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.

So here at the completion of this book I thought it prudent to look over the character / heart of Nehemiah… I believe there is much to be gained here and much to encourage us all.

Nehemiah is A Man of Prayer,  1:4; 4 As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven:

also (1:6; 2:4; 4:4; 5:19; 6:14; 13:14,22,29). We see that Nehemiah leads by first gaining access to God in prayer. Prayer was his first initial response to the plight of his people. He seeks the council of the Lord frequently and immediately. He makes frequent petitions of the Lord and is also frequent in his acknowledgment of Gods answers to prayer.

Nehemiah has courage 6:11 But I said, Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live? I will not go in. When threatened he does not retreat. He is confident in God and his calling. His faith raises the faith of others around him. The defeated people become faithful people.

Nehemiah has genuine concern for his people. 2:10 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah, the Ammonite servant, heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel. He sought the welfare of his people. He listened to grievances and took action to address the issues. (4:10-12; 5:1-5). He let people weep on his shoulder he sympathised with them and there plight.

He has Empathy 4:10-12;  5:1-5 1 Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers. 2 For there were those who said, With our sons and our daughters, we are many. So let us get grain, that we may eat and keep alive. 3 There were also those who said, We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to get grain because of the famine. 4 And there were those who said, We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our fields and our vineyards. 5 Now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children are as their children. Yet we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but it is not in our power to help it, for other men have our fields and our vineyards.

Nehemiah identifies himself with his people 1:6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. 

He is in this with them he recognizes his role, he is part of the problem and the solution. God is the saviour not him. He is not the great white knight riding in ti save the day through his great leadership (a trap meany leader fall into).

These characteristics of Nehemiah are just that they reflect his heart his character and out of this flows his work and methods which I will look at next week.

The Key word to describe Nehemiah is INTEGRITY.

1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.”a gentleman of complete integrity”
2.  the state of being whole and undivided.

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.     Lao Tzu

People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.      Theodore Roosevelt

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a moulder of consensus.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a moulder of consensus.

Martin Luther King, Jr.”

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