Nehemiah Chapter Four
Leadership Critical Dynamics on Display (1-3)
Nehemiah has already displayed some important lessons concerning godly leadership in chapters 1-3. Those principles exercised bring us to the current situation of leadership under the pressure of opposition. His rebuilding efforts have come to the attention of those who perceive them as a threat to their wealth machine 4:1-3. They use the usual first tactic of ridicule and quickly move to organize and exterminate. This opposition gives us the opportunity to observe six leadership principles that we can emulate and employ under the pressures of life.
Leadership Principle One: Submit Issue to God (4-5)
We are not told how, but Nehemiah became aware of this oppositional meeting. One cannot help but remember the American political landscape in recent years and President Trump’s building of the wall to secure the southern board of the United States. The reality of these sorts of tensions occurs in every arena of life, spiritual or political.
In either case, Nehemiah shows us the way forward. I think we can safely assume that what we read in verses four and five was a public event, not a private prayer, though also that. His prayer is twofold. First, he appeals to God to take note of their plight which he describes (4). Then he prays for the demise of the opposition (5). The former admit our weakness and seeks God’s power. The latter prays for the weakness of the opposition because they are opposing the right.
Leadership Principle Two: Stay Focused Under Pressure (6)
The first mistake we make we when are opposed is to second guess our commitment and withdraw. Nehemiah demonstrates by his actions that such withdrawal is a mistake. In fact, this is an extremely important principle because such second-guessing is not only sending the wrong signal to the opposition, but also to your own constituency—maybe we are wrong, or I am not sure we can pull this off, or for the Christian leader, maybe I miss read God’s message.
Leadership Principe Three: Expect Opposition (7-10)
Note the ongoing importance of prayer as Nehemiah sees the opposition unfolding and the magnitude of the project in which they have engaged. He again leads, by leading in praying. Here is how he records it as a three-step process.
- Identified the opposition 8
- Organized a prayer meeting 9
- Dependence upon God affirmed 10
Leadership Principle Four: Organize to Accomplish the Goal (13-21)
He organized a system of being on the alert to maintains security
He organized to provide individual security by mutual responsibility to protect one another. Everybody had one or more roles. Everybody was contributing to the goal. Everybody was to be prepared to defend the other.
He organized to keep progressing towards the goal. Yet, while engaging in security detail, each was engaged in the building—pushing towards accomplishing the goal.
Leadership Principle Five: Remain Confident and Exude Confidence in God (20)
Leadership recognizes man’s inability to achieve on his own. But leadership never loses confidence in God to enable to achieve the goal. The Apostle Paul and Nehemiah are on the same page. Paul shouts, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:10-13) And Jesus agrees when he says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Later Nehemiah tells the people, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (8:10).
Leadership Principle Six: Model Commitment Under Pressure (21-23)
General Patton modeled leadership on the battlefield. He expected the same from his men and he got it because he led by example. I knew a man who served in his 3rd Army. He told me that many of the men hated him for the way he pushed them, but they admired him because he pushed himself. From what I have read, his army had less casualties while fighting more enemy encounters than any other division in WWII. He also achieved his goal again and again. While Patton was an anomaly in terms of philosophy and lifestyle, the fact is he prayed for God’s blessing on his army and for the demise of the German opposition. One wonders if he read Nehemiah on leadership.
Conclusion and Implementation
Both on a personal level and the Kingdom of Heaven on earth level (the church), we face Sanballat, Tobiah, and their associates in living Christianly every day. The opposition of the Evil One and his minions were well depicted by C. S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. These leadership principles do us well for the battles. Make yourself a chart and configure it in a manner meaningful to you. Review it periodically and take inventory. Are you practicing these principles in your personal life, in your family leadership, in your church life?