We can learn many things from Nehemiah’s epic efforts to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and rebuild a robust community of God’s people. One thing we notice is that he was integrating two projects, each complementary to the other: Build the wall – build the people. Build the people – build the wall. Showing wonderful leadership skills, Nehemiah unites the people, builds the wall, and deals with the inappropriate behaviours of the society inside the wall.
Viewing the book from this perspective, at least three practical lessons emerge:
If we’re going to build walls, we must simultaneously attend to our inner ‘maintenance’ – the state and substance of our inner selves, hopefully insulating ourselves against the risk of corruption, sin, and the reproach of those around us who would like to see us discredited.
We all need to step up into leadership mode sometimes. So the leadership lessons in the book of Nehemiah are for all of us. We need to accept the responsibility, and learn and grow into it as Nehemiah had to.
A good approach to Christian leadership is the idea of ‘entering in’ with people, where they’re at. This is the approach Jesus took. It involves getting alongside a person and so empathizing or embracing their circumstance that you become one with them in it. The best form of entering in may be to just listen; sit silently with them in their trouble. Or it may require you to speak into their situation, sensitively. Above all, in ‘entering in’ we try to find a way to extend hope. “Hope makes it possible to look beyond the present circumstances … and makes a dramatic affirmation that there is light on the other side of darkness.” (Henri Nouwen)
Three very practical things for us to practice.
Contributed by Ken Francis