Leadership is not a theory. Leadership is action that requires commitment to a task and responsibility for the people whom they steer.
This short introductory video by De Waal Esterhuizen inspires leaders to take charge, to take responsibility of their community https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0S4tSv8quKU )
1 In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. 2 And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. 3 I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” 4 Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” 6 And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time. 7 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me…
11 So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode. 13 I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire… 16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work. 17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” 18 And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work.
Observation and reflection questions
Context: 70 years after the exile of Judah God placed it in Nehemiah’s heart to rebuild Jerusalem after he heard the sad news of hoe devastated it was. He was the cupbearer to the King.
- What was troubling Nehemiah’s heart so much? Why do you think this troubled him? [verse1-5]
- What idea or plan was forming in Nehemiah’s heart? What did he decide to do about it?
- Nehemiah was wise, thorough and strategic. Before announcing his idea, what did he do? [verses 11-16]
- What is ironic about Nehemiah’s plan? [hint: where was Nehemiah, where was the need, and who else is mentioned in this text – especially verse 16]
- What do you learn from this regarding the nature and cost of leadership?
Personal reflection and application questions
Nehemiah lived a privileged and comfortable life in the presence of the Persian King Artaxerxes. But new of the devastation of his beloved Jerusalem moved his heart, and after prayer committed to rebuild and restore the city to its former glory.
- List your responsibilities – both task and people. Indicate priorities for each responsibility.
- Is it too much? Who assigned you this responsibility? Which can you shift over to someone else? To whom and when?
- Consider your top priority responsibilities. How committed are you to these responsibilities? When will you know you have completed your mandate there?
- Nehemiah’s heart moved him to leave all else and commit to rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.
- What is burning in your heart?
- When will you review or inspect the scope of the “project” or purpose?
- When will you communicate this “project” or purpose, and to whom?
Thank God for entrusting to you the things you have responsibility over; pray for the needs in these areas of responsibility and ask for grace to be faithful. Now ask the Lord what he wants to entrust to you; respond as he leads.