Bible Study Tools / Leadership

Nehemiah: A Leader for All Time

by UNC Contributor

There is more than one kind of leadership. Some leaders are dictatorial, such as Nimrod, while others lead by example, such as Nehemiah.

Nehemiah’s life and principles show us what a Christian needs to be a good leader, especially when we lead by example. Nehemiah had Godly character traits that made him an outstanding leader.

Nehemiah was loyal to the king and to his fellow Jews, but above all, he was loyal to God. He fasted and prayed in preparation to do God's work (Neh. 1:3-4). He did this in order to serve his fellow Jews, and to follow God’s will instead of his own. He proved that to be loyal is to be constant and faithful in any obligation, implying trust and confidence.

He led by example, and did not expect others to do what he would not have done himself (Neh. 2:17-18; 4.21). If Nehemiah were hauling stones himself, how encouraging it must have been for the people to see this high-ranking official working so hard to defend the city. In Nehemiah 4:21, Nehemiah uses the word “we” instead of “you.” He was governor, but he still got his hands dirty. Our approach to the work of God should be the same.

Nehemiah was faced with opposition that was trying to stop him from rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He risked his life for others and for the cause (Neh. 4:19-20). He was very bold and courageous, and he knew God’s will. He simply prayed, then went to work and trusted God to protect him (Neh. 6:8-9,16).

In chapter 6:10-11, Nehemiah was tempted to hide in the temple, for fear he may be assassinated. But he refused to sin by entering the temple in this manner. By showing fear in the face of danger and running away at such a crucial time, Nehemiah’s actions would have disheartened those who had been inspired by his valor. We need to be just as bold in our Christian lives so we can resist those who frustrate the purpose of God and his church.

Nehemiah was a generous man. He was not in it for personal gain. There was a famine that ravished the land, and many had gone into debt to feed their families. Their homes were taken away and their children were sold into slavery (Neh. 5:9-10). Nehemiah lent them money and grain, and paid a great portion of these expenses out of his own pocket (Neh. 5:17). He also corrected those who took advantage of the situation (Neh. 5:10).

Nehemiah feared God. He turned his attention to rebuilding the spiritual foundation. He publicly subjected himself to God’s laws and set a high standard for others to follow. He restored tithing, the Sabbath and Feast days, and he refrained from mingling with pagan nations (Neh. 8:1-18). In Nehemiah 10:1, he was the first to sign an agreement to walk in God's laws. As a result of his leadership, the rebuilding of the wall was completed in less than two months. Nehemiah knew when to exercise his authority because he knew and understood God’s will and was loyal to it. We, too, need these character traits to be a balanced Christian, whether we are leaders or not.

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