Lessons on Leadership from Nehemiah
“NEHEMIAH 3”Categories: Lessons on Leadership
With the city inspected and the people properly motivated, Nehemiah sets a plan to start the work. The chapter is fairly easily to follow – the work follows the seven gates of the city, starting with the sheep gate on the north side of the city and moving in a counterclockwise direction until eventually returning to it. Described through this chapter is Nehemiah’s detailed plan on how the people were to pursue this work. What’s clear about Nehemiah’s plan is that he didn’t underestimate the task, he didn’t put off getting the work started, nor did he try to get too much done at once.
One of the brilliance of Nehemiah’s plan is that he got everyone involved. We find mentioned several groupings of people – priests, men of Jericho, union men, city officials, women, bachelors, temple servants, city guards, merchants – and that doesn’t include the vast number of individuals who would offer their talents and strengths to this massive project.
Nehemiah had the mammoth project of rebuilding the walls organized. If everyone built where they were assigned, there would be no gaps in the wall. They all worked close to one another. There was also a sense of convenience and motivation to where each built. There’s a phrase found all through this chapter, “in front of their house.” Not only would this be convenient, no time would be lost commuting to a different work site, but building the protective wall in front of where one lived would ensure they built it well.
What do we learn about leadership from this week’s reading? Leaders get everyone involved. The old way of thinking is, “If you want something done right you’ve got to do it yourself.” The Biblical way of thinking is that we are better when we work together (ECC 4:9). Within every person is a talent God has given, a strength that can be used, an ability that can be utilized and developed, the potential for greatness. Paul taught that the body of Christ grows which each member does their part (EPH 4:11-16). In every home, in every office, in every congregation, the leaders seek to utilize every single person. Everyone has a job. Everyone has a role. Everyone has something to contribute. Everyone is important. Everyone has potential to grow and learn. Everyone can make a difference. The walls wouldn’t have been completed were it not for the work of every single person. Leaders aren’t focused on the best and brightest – they’re focused on their people. Every one.
Nehemiah 3 is a recognition of the workers who helped to restore the walls of Jerusalem. It’s neat reading through the chapter and thinking about each name, each person, each section of the wall. Did they do something special on those bricks as a reminder of their work – leaving their initials or their fingerprints? Did they take personal pride in knowing the walls in front of their house would keep their family safe for generations? There’s one important detail in this chapter – it’s what is missing. Did you notice the name missing from this chapter? Nehemiah’s name is not found among the workers on the wall. That’s not because he didn’t work, in fact he did just as much as the rest of the people, if not more so. The reason his name is not found in this chapter is because leaders don’t lead for recognition and praise. Nehemiah gave credit to others, put the focus on the people, and ultimately on God (NEH 6:16). Remember, leadership isn’t about products and projects, nor is it about recognition and praise – leadership is about people. “With the people God has entrusted under my influence, how can I bring them to a better place” or from today’s reading, “how can I help every person get involved?”
“Righteous God and Father, thank You this day for the wisdom recorded in this section of Your words. What a blessing You’ve given through the combined efforts of every person. You have given us families, brethren, communities and groups that enjoy great success collectively and individually when we all work towards the common goal. When pride would creep into my heart against another, help me to see the value of others, and to keep Your purpose as my own, to help each person under my influence come to know You, and grow to become more and more like You. Just as You gave Jesus for every single person, help me to pursue what is best for every single person in my sphere of influence, for Your name’s sake.”