Lessons on Leadership from Nehemiah
“NEHEMIAH 13”Categories: Lessons on Leadership
Time has passed by the final chapter in this book. Nehemiah had returned to Babylon and “some time later” he returned to Jerusalem. Not only did time change, but the people had changed as well. And not for the better –
- Eliashib the Priest allowed an enemy to dwell in the Temple courts (v. 6-9)
- The Levites were not given their support and stopped their work (v. 10-14)
- The people were working on the Sabbath day, not respecting God’s law (v. 15-22)
- The people had married women of other nations, resulting in ungodly influences among the people (v. 23-27)
To each of these issues Nehemiah provided the proper response. He gave direction and guidance. He offered rebuke. He stayed and helped them fix what had changed in the time he had been gone.
There’s a lesson here. To quote Winston Churchill – “Never give up. Never, never, never give up.” The success of today doesn’t guarantee the success of tomorrow. The victories of the past doesn’t mean there won’t be failures in the future. If leadership is about people, people have good days and bad days. People succeed and people fail. People learn but then people forget. People grow, but people also shrink.
It can be that as one generation learns and grows and overcomes weaknesses and problems, there will arise a new generation to face those same challenges and problems. We might think, as leaders, “Didn’t we beat this? Didn’t we overcome this? Shouldn’t’ they know more by now?” I wonder how often God could think those thoughts about me?
Success as a leader is not determined by one moment, one issue, one challenge – but a lifetime. Yes, we live one day at a time. And yes, we face one issue at a time (brick by brick). But the measure of a leader is seen in the life they live – the influence of one’s life. It is the consistent, day by day living, the example set over years and years, the intentional relationships we form and teachings we provide spanning over years.
The final chapter in Nehemiah reminds us that not every follower will follow their leader. Despite how excellent a leader may be, and how pure their example, and how strong their voice, leadership is about people, and people choose who they will follow. I’m sure it could be easy, in Nehemiah’s shoes, to be discouraged finding the people he had worked so hard on, to be so far from where he left them. Parents of prodigals, mates of the spiritually uninterested, shepherds of the straying sheep, can all share those feelings. But notice the last words, “Remember me, O my God, for good.” It’s as if Nehemiah is saying: I did my best. I tried my hardest. I know I wasn’t perfect, but I gave all I had for these people, for their good, and for Your good. Remember the good I sought to do, O Lord. Isn’t that all we can do – we do our best, we try to provide a godly influence and direction over the people entrusted to us – whether or not they choose to follow.
Just do your best. Do all you can do. Never, ever give up. And when it’s all said and done, we hand our work and our efforts over to the Lord, departing this life with the same prayer on our lips, “Lord, in all we have done, we ask You remember us, the ways we tried our best, and You remember us for good.”
“Righteous God, You who are holy and good, we humbly ask You strengthen our hearts to never give up on the people You have placed in our lives. Help us day by day to do our best, knowing that’s all we can do. Bless our efforts. And when our work is completed, remember us for good.”