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Nehemiah: A Lesson in Leadership

Studying leadership theories can often prove challenging as the definition of leadership varies and is dependent upon the situation, problem, or area of interest. In the case of Nehemiah (area of interest), the definition provided by Winston and Patterson (2006), seemed appropriate:

“A leader is one or more people who selects, equips, trains, and influences one or more follower(s) who have diverse gifts, abilities, and skills and focuses the follower(s) to the organization’s mission and objectives causing the follower(s) to willingly and enthusiastically expend spiritual, emotional, and physical energy in a concerted coordinated effort to achieve the organizational mission and objectives,” ( p. 7)

Nehemiah serves as an example of how leaders should perform. He was a visionary (by God’s grace), strategist, motivator, worker, and partner to name a few. 

Visionary: Nehemiah had a vision, God’s vision, and at the appropriate time, he shared the vision with enthusiasm to encourage and inspire the people to rebuild the walls. (Nehemiah 2:12, 17)

Strategist: In order to begin preparation for rebuilding the walls, Nehemiah had to first gauge what they were up against. In doing so he spent several days assessing the damaged walls. All things considered he then presented his plan, “Then I told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me…” (Nehemiah 2:11,13-15)

Motivator: The people began to feel tired and discouraged so when morale was low, Nehemiah reminded the people of their purpose, goal, and God’s protection (Nehemiah 4:10, 14).

Worker: Although Nehemiah led the construction effort, he was a leader who got involved in the daily work.  He didn’t over delegate or use his position of authority to micromanage (Nehemiah 5:16). This is especially important because people who think they are getting away with not working will be remembered for the work they didn’t do and the people who actually did the work. 

Partner: When Nehemiah got to Jerusalem, not only did he see broken walls, he also saw broken people. After the walls were rebuilt, he brought the people together to hear Ezra read the Book of the Law of Moses. Their partnership resulted in a unified effort of rebuilding and revival (Nehemiah 8:1)

There is a level of responsibility of being a leader. It’s not about titles (although it may be for some) but it considers caring for others, the situation, and trust. Nehemiah was successful as a leader because he had a clear purpose, combined prayer with preparation and planning, stayed on track, exercised wisdom, and lived life above reproach. Everything he accomplished was all for the glory of God. 

We are all leaders in our own right. Yet if you are currently tasked with leading an effort that appears to be too much to endure, as you’re preparing your plan, add God as part of the strategy and let his vision be your guide. Under his direction, anything is possible.

Dear God, the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt in 52 days and according to your word nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).  In the order of Nehemiah, bless us with the unusual leadership and the works of our hands. All that we do, we give glory and honor to you.

In Jesus Name


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