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Nehemiah's Unique & Exceptional Leadership Qualities

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
George Orwell

“Politicians and corporations have always placed economic interest above moral interest. This is now hurting the whole planet.”
Marianne Thieme

“When I despair I remember all throughout history, the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end always fall. Think of it always.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“Great leaders of the Bible were great at prayer. They were not leaders because of brilliancy of thought; because they were exhaustless in resources; because of their magnificent culture or native endowment, but because of the power of prayer, they could command the power of God.”
J. Oswald Sanders.

Nehemiah was a Jewish biblical figure who appeared in the historical events in Israel during the Jewish Exile – 587-538 (modern secular dating). It was a time of extreme hardship, shame and ridicule for the Jewish people – their homes were plundered and they were carried away by the Babylonians; and scattered all over the world because of disobedience to God’s will. Daniel 1:1&2 stipulates it was the hand of God that allowed it for them.

Nehemiah becomes a cup bearer at the king’s palace-King Artaxerxes of Persia: 465-424 BC. He was more like a house manager who ran the king’s palace. He was distinguished, efficient, and noble and the king loved him. Nehemiah was also a godly man who feared God. Let us examine his great leadership qualities and compare it to modern leaders.

• Godly & humble character
• Burden and concern for his people & their suffering
• Favor before the king for unique service
• His discretion
• How he handles his opponents
• Encouraging the people
• A man of vision and goal
• Confronts Jewish oppression of the poor
• Vigilant against enemies
• Courageous resolve in face of opponents & enemies
• Absolute faith in God
• Wall finished

Compared to Modern Leadership

• Moral and Christian principles separate from modern leadership
• Lack of godly and moral leaders
• Leaders who want money and power, not hard work
• No burden and compassion for the people
• See leadership as a place of enrichment
• No vision and goal to help a nation
• Lack of love for nation & people, rather let if fall
• Self centered and arrogant
• Devoid of moral guidance and conscience
• Lack of work ethics and hard work
• Prefer stealing, lies and embezzlement
• In the end, a nation or empire deteriorates and fades off
• Nothing significant done for the people

Let us critically look at Nehemiah’s unique leadership qualities:

1 Burden for his people.

Nehemiah’s visitors came to him at the king’s palace, and he inquired about the situation of the Jews in Jerusalem. They told him the following:

“The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.” Neh. 1:3&4
We see a man sensitive to the problems and plight of his people. Although he lived in opulence in the king’s palace, the burden of his people crushed and kept him alert and prayerful. When he heard of the suffering of his people and their shameful situation, he wept, fasted and took the problem to God.

2 Favor before the king

Nehemiah finds favor before the king. This is because he was faithful, cheerful and worked hard in the king’s palace. The king loved him. The king was surprised to see him sad when he appeared before him. Because the king respected and loved him, God gave Nehemiah a special favor before the king who asked what was wrong. Nehemiah told the king of the suffering of his people. The king granted Nehemiah his request to go and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah sets out to Judah to rebuild the broken wall and the city. The king gave him everything he needed, including the security that protected him. God is always looking for men and women who will rebuild the nations, and realize his goal of: “I came that ye might have life and life abundantly.”

2 A man of discreet

Nehemiah was wise, prudent and sagacious. He traveled down to Judah and did not tell any one why he was there. He carefully surveyed the land, the broken city and wall. He took note of what needed to be done. Then after that, he met the leaders and the people. Why did he do that? Because they are enemies who will not like the good work the leader is trying to implement for the people. So you don’t tell people all your vision and what is in your heart so they don’t block your plans. When he was ready and knew what needed to be done, he assembled and told them how God favored him before the king, and why he came. The people were happy that God has answered their prayers. They said to Nehemiah:

“Let us rise and build.” Nehemiah 2:20

3 How he handles his opponents

Immediately the rumor spread that someone came to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, the enemies of Judah who did not want Jerusalem rebuilt began to attack Nehemiah with
• Ridicule
• Planting stories that were lies
• Threats and plots

Nehemiah answered his opponent by taking the problem to God, and encouraged the people to trust and have faith in God.

“Then answered I them, and said unto them,, the God of heaven, he will prosper us, therefore we his servants will arise and build., but you have no portion, no right, no memorial in Jerusalem.” Neh. 2:20; 4:4

4 Encouraging his people

The enemies discouraged them and even those among the Jews who were there before. Nehemiah always encouraged the people and lifted their eyes to God who can deliver them and protect them. There were so much work to do and the people were tired and weary. Nehemiah encouraged them that God will fight for them; they should trust God and help each other.

“And I looked, and rose up and said unto the nobles and the rulers and the rest of the people: “Be not afraid of them. Remember the Lord which is great and terrible and fight for your brethren and sons and your daughters and your houses.” Nehemiah 4:14

5 A man of vision & goal

Nehemiah was a leader who knew where he was going. Faith is vision. Faith comes from hearing and hearing the word of God - the Scriptures. Faith is developed from the word of God. As you adhere to God’s word like Nehemiah, God reveals to you His will for your life. The burden of Jewish suffering was registered by the Holy Spirit to him. He saw the vision and the goal destined for him. He was not a leader for what he can get or be enriched. He followed the dictate of his conscience, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and God’s will for his life.

6 Confronts Jewish oppression of the poor.

When Nehemiah arrived, the people cried out because they were oppressed by the nobles and rulers. Their land were mortgaged, houses and vine yards so they can’t even buy food to eat. Families were bonded and in great suffering as they couldn’t feed their children. Nehemiah was angry and scolded the rulers, nobles and rebuked them. He told them it was not right and they should restore the vine yards and the houses back to the people and they listened to him”

“We will restore them and we will require nothing of them.” Nehemiah 5: 1-12

Why did they listen to Nehemiah? These are rulers and powerful men, and Nehemiah was nothing? This is because he was a leader who had already prevailed with God in prayer and brought God to the situation, and the people listened to him. It was not because of his eloquence, or endowment, or natural talent as we heard from one of the quotes, but because of his prayerful life- power with God in prayer.

7 Vigilance against enemies

Nehemiah and his people had many enemies and opponents. He appointed people who watched day and night against their enemies. The leader must know he or she has enemies who don’t like to lift the burden of the people up; who hate the progress the leader implements. So what do you do? You are very careful and watchful at all times. You make your trust completely in God, not in human beings because you don’t know what is in their thoughts and hearts. The Scripture says: “The heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked.” The leader is ready to protect the people at all times too. Listen to Nehemiah.

“Nevertheless, we made our prayers unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night because of them.” Neh.” 4:9

8 Courageous resolve in face of threats & enemies.

When he was threatened that someone was going to kill him, his response was:

“Should, such a man as I flee, and who is there and being as I am will go into the temple to save his life.” Nehemiah 6: 11.

The man was hired to kill him. Here was a man who was not afraid of threats or plots. Why? He knew who was in control of his life and events in the world. It was that God that disciplined his people because of sin, and it is the same God of compassion who will bring them back. No enemy will destroy or hurt him as long as he was obedient and doing God’s will. God controls events in life, not arrogant and envious men and women. God does not desire the death of sinners and Nehemiah knew it. When God disciplines us, it is that we repent and come back to Him. He was doing what was right for his people, and that was God’s desire and He will protect him from enemies. God protects the leader doing the right thing, and whose motive is right.

9 Absolute faith in God

He was a man whose faith and hope was embedded in God. He knew the God of Israel what He can do- the God who is in control and who can do anything. His faith was not in people, but in the God of Israel. No enemy, or people or rulers or people hired could touch him or kill him. He became invisible because of his absolute trust and faith in the Lord. “No weapon formed against the believer shall prosper.” This kind of faith and trust in the Lord gives you peace and freedom.

10 Focused – the wall was finished.

He did not deviate from what God sent him to do, or his vision and destiny to pursue other irrelevant material things that have destroyed the leader like money, women or sex, etc. He was completely focused to the burden of his struggling people. That is what the leader should be concerned with – the problems of the people who elected him or her to serve: whether in politics, corporations, or churches temples and mosques or any leadership position. Nehemiah finished the work of rebuilding the wall and the city.

“And the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month of E-lul in fifty and two days. Neh. 6:15

Can you compare Nehemiah’s unique leadership qualities to the modern trend of leadership where nothing is happening; the government of the country is not functioning; things can’t be done for the people, but is shrouded in conflict for power, lack of compassion for the people, selfishness and greed and no concern or burden for the people. This is a global crises causing global financial and economic unrest. The turbulence seen all over the world stems from corrupt management of financial resources of the people by their leaders, thereby creating a global unrest.

Many middle class now are classified as poor, yet those who could create jobs won’t do it for envy and lust for power. Even the healthcare could be struck down for the poor. What will the Highest Court in the land do with people with pre-exiting condition; children under their parent’s healthcare; the poor who have no healthcare and no voice? The rich who want to repeal the healthcare forget money is transient and you can become poor tomorrow and die because you don’t have healthcare. A nation that oppresses the poor will not last long. The evidence of it is so visible down the history of empires and powerful nations. See how Nehemiah scolded and reprimanded the rulers and nobles who oppressed the poor. Where is the hard work that characterized this country before and brought the world on the shores of America? That hard work made many immigrants able to enjoy the American dream, but these things are slipping away because of lack of moral principles, vision, goal and hard work.

How desperate we need leaders like Nehemiah who have power with God in prayer; leaders of moral integrity who fear God and love the people; who are compassionate and moved by the burden for the people they serve; who will encourage and build our broken cities and walls and create jobs for millions without jobs; leaders who will love and respect the people- black, white, red, yellow or pink, regardless of faith or religion; leaders who will commit to working hard, goal oriented and with vision; who know where they want to lead the people- to a better future God ordained for them; leaders who stand for what is right and fearless like Nehemiah. I hope and pray as people read this, they will think and ponder about Nehemiah’s unique leadership qualities.

Rev Uche Ikpa.

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