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.
In part one, we studied the first great quality of a leader, he PRIVATELY INSPECTS THE CONDITION. Today, we look at the second quality:
PERSONALLY INVOLVED IN THE CONFLICT – 2:17-18
The first quality of a leader is to Identify with the Brokenness – 2:17a. The word “reproach” here means, “a disgrace, to look down upon.” Nehemiah did not want God to be looked down upon by the heathen around them. Notice once again that Nehemiah used the words, “we” & “us.” Whether on the jobsite or in the home, when all you do is cast blame and criticism, you squelch motivation. But when you identify with the problem, you encourage motivation (Swindoll, pg 56). What Nehemiah prayed in private (1:6-7) is what he said in public. Mark it down - our private words eventually make it to the public. When God places you in a position of leadership (church, job, family, etc.), it is good to remember that you cannot do it all alone.
The second quality of a good leader is to Identify the Burden – 2:17b. Nehemiah made an honest assessment about the situation, not sugar-coating their condition or viewing it through rose-colored glasses. Nehemiah did not threaten or offer incentives, but appealed to their inner desire to please God and do right. What great advice for parents today!
He did not care that they had lived there in that condition for so long that they may have grown used to it and not want to put in the hard word to change. Nehemiah knew that his burden came from God, and he was not going to compromise it for anything or anyone. Every believer needs a burden & a ministry from God for God. It would be good to remember the words penned by Matthew Henry, who once wrote, “Many are weak in our duty because we are cold, indifferent, and unresolved to it.” Nehemiah was moved by God because of the great need, and he shared that burden with those around him.
The third step a good leader will take is to Identify the Blessings – 2:18. When God leads, God provides – and we should let those around us know! When the people see the credentials that the king has given him (remember, this is the same king who stopped the work during Ezra’s day), and they hear his stirring speech on the blessings of God, the people are moved to do something.
“And they said…” – they did not try to tell Nehemiah about the times under Ezra that they tried to rebuild the walls and failed. Too many Christians today are content with the disrepair around them and or they are discouraged because of past mistakes and failed attempts.
Proverbs 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
Nehemiah knew that God could do it because He had already did it in the heart of the king, and in sharing this it convinced the Jews that the time was now to begin to rebuild. This is when Nehemiah became a leader. You are not a leader if no one is following – you’re just on a long, lonely walk! The people needed Nehemiah, and Nehemiah needed the people. You can get a lot more done for the Lord when there is one head and many hands!
Notice the word Work – this is a word that will continue to come up as we study this great book. The Bible never separates spiritual and secular work as if they are different. The Bible teaches that to the child of God nothing is secular, and everything is sacred and spiritual.
- Paul was a tent maker to help fund his ministry of starting churches that could not afford to take care of him.
- Moses was a shepherd for 40 years before God called him to lead Israel out of the bondage of Egypt.
- Nehemiah was a cupbearer, which put him into position to be used of God to get the funding needed for the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
We should remember what Paul said to the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Our problem today is that we often compartmentalize everything when we shouldn’t. No matter what you are doing, and where you are doing it, do it all for the glory of God.This was a good work because it was what God wanted, and it was being done to glorify God.
In our third post, we will look at the final quality of a good leader - PERSISTENT IN SPITE OF THE CRITICS.