Nehemiah 2:11-20 So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days. (12) And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon. (13) And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire. (14) Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king's pool: but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass. (15) Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned. (16) And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work. (17) Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. (18) Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. (19) But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? (20) 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 ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.
As we continue our study of Nehemiah, we see that the battle leaves the throne room and is now out in the open for all to see. We see that Nehemiah has a certain pattern to his life – pray, work, and then pray again. It could be said that prayer was the bookends of his life. It was this pattern that established Nehemiah and one of the greatest leaders known to man. Leadership has been defined as, “The art of getting people to do what they ought to do because they want to do it.”
Everyone reading this today serves a two-fold purpose as not only a follower, but a leader. You may be a leader in the church, the job site, your circle of friends, or in your family. The question we must ask ourselves today is this: How do we rate ourselves, or how effective are we, as leaders? Let’s notice together today Three Potent Leadership Qualities Nehemiah exhibited that should be evident in all of our lives today:
PRIVATELY INSPECTS THE CONDITION – 2:11-16
It has been said that a wise leader knows when to plan, when to speak, and when to work (Be Commentary, Wiersbe). This is evident in the life of Nehemiah. The first thing we notice is that he was Separated unto the Lord – 2:11. As Nehemiah enters the city with the king’s army, no one in Jerusalem seems to take much notice. But though they took little notice of him, he took great notice of them and their state.
As we will notice in 2:12, it was during these three days that Nehemiah got alone with God and God gave him the burden for the true condition of the city and the walls. I am sure Nehemiah was ready to get started, and the temptation was to jump right in to the work – but he waited 3 days for the Lord lead.
As a leader, whether it is in the workforce, in the church, or in our family, we must be willing to get alone with the Lord and wait on His timing. Often times today, we desire so much to be in the forefront of everything that we never take the time to get alone with God in obscurity. Think about the Apostle Paul. Soon after his miraculous conversion he spent three years in the desert alone with the Lord before he began his ministry.
The key is to be what you ought to be when no one is looking. Be faithful behind the scenes (Swindoll, pg. 54). It is easy to do what is right when others are around and you will be held accountable to them – but what about when no one will notice?
The second truth we notices is the Solitude of the Responsibility – 2:12,16. This is the work and responsibility of leadership that most people never see; and it is here that you will gain the respect of others. One characteristic all successful leaders share is the ability to know how to handle themselves in solitude.
God had placed a burden in Nehemiah’s heart, but he waited to tell everyone about it – they must not of had Facebook or Twitter back then! As a leader, you must be careful to not publicize your plans too soon before the people they will benefit are able to appreciate them.
It was not a mistake that Nehemiah chose to go at night. He saw more at night than the residents saw in the daylight, for he saw the potential as well as the problems. This is the mark of a great leader (Wiersbe). As a leader, there will be many sleepless nights as you are burdened with conditions as others slumber to the need around them.
Another reason, which we will cover in a later post, why he went at night was because there were some within the city who were aligned with Jerusalem’s enemy – you can read about it in Nehemiah 6:17-19.
The third observation we make is that Nehemiah Saw the Need Firsthand – 2:13-15. Chuck Swindoll has said that, “The secret of successful leadership is doing your homework.” It was the responsibility of Nehemiah to be fully aware of the details and to develop a plan of action.
The first step is always to understand fully the task at hand. That is why he inspected the walls for himself instead of just going off the report he was given in chapter 1. As he inspected the circumference of the walls, history says it was over a mile around. The new walls needed to be 3-4 feet thick, and 15-20 feet high.
The individual who is able to stand back, being fully aware of the facts, and yet not list in them, is the one best equipped to lead. Nehemiah did not overlook the problems, nor did he allow them to overwhelm him. We cannot ignore the needs around us, but must honestly asses them if we are going to be a part of the solution.