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 covered the first quality in a good leader, they Privately Inspect the Conditions. In part two, we saw that a good leader is Personally Involved in the Conflict. Today, we will cover the final quality:
PERSISTENT IN SPITE OF THE CRITICS – 2:19-20
When considering critics, and the pest that they can become, member this, “There is no opportunity without critics (Davey, pg 50).” We notice in verse 19 the Response of the Critics – 2:19. Who were these critics? Sanballat was governor of Samaria. Tobiah ruled Ammon. Geshem ruled the Arab nations with his sons. So, as we see, Nehemiah and Israel were surrounded by critics. Like Elijah of old, sometimes it may seem that our enemies surround us and outnumber our friends. But remember, everything and everyone that opposes God will oppose you when you step out by faith to serve Him. “There is no opportunity from heaven without opposition from hell (Swindoll, pg 58).”
We notice that they ridiculed and mocked them. And when we get to chapter 4, we see that this is a favorite tactic of theirs. It has been said that, “Mockery and ridicule are the weapons of those who have no other.” Public ridicule is still the norm today for those who oppose God and the Bible. We see that in the Media…Hollywood…and Public Educational System. And if they can’t embarrass you, they will try to intimidate you, just as they tried to intimidate Nehemiah. But Nehemiah understood what was penned many years later in the New Testament in 1 John 4:4, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
In verse 20 we see Nehemiah’s Response to the Critics – 2:20. When you face opposition, understand that opportunity is just around the corner. Nehemiah did not allow his critics to deter or stop his work for the Lord. You family, church, co-workers, etc. are depending upon your leadership – don’t give up and don’t give in! The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
I remember reading an illustration somewhere about a boy who was being bullied for his lunch money everyday of $2.50. So one day he decides to sign up for karate lessons so he could defend himself. He showed up for his first lesson and the instructor tells him it will cost in $5 a lesson. So, he decides the next day to just give his money to the bully because the fight is not worth it! Too many Christians today are willing to “pay the bully,” than to stand up and fight and build for the Lord. The work is worth it so give it your all.
So, as we close this three part blog series, how do you rate as a leader? Remember, you’re only a leader if someone is following you! Get alone with God and get a God-given burden for your family, you church and the Lord’s work. Enlist the help of those around you and motivate them to fulfill God’s purpose. And don’t let anyone deter your from fulfilling your responsibility. Let me leave you with a thought from Dr. V. Raymond Edman – It is always too soon to quit!