The Passage: Nehemiah 5:16-18. Additional reading Philippians 2:1-11
The Point: God calls us to be servant leaders.
“I also applied myself to work on this wall…” (Neh. 5:16, NASB). In this passage, Nehemiah exhibited one of the most powerful leadership principles, he led by example. By this time his status was elevated to governor. He had people at his disposal and there was no need for him to do the physical labor of rebuilding the wall. Yet, he recognized the only way to lead and minister to his people was to dive into the work with them. He could have leveraged the land and resources of the people to continue the work. He could have used the governor’s food allowance, but he did not. Nehemiah kept his focus on the work of rebuilding the wall. In the process, his leadership example was rebuilding a people. Years of captivity had left the people of Judah depressed and oppressed. The work of the wall was daunting, and they were constantly plagued with opposition.
Picture the scene: a bunch of refugees are trying to put their former home back together. After years of oppression and several false starts, they are finally getting traction on this project. The work is grueling and hard. They look up and here comes their governor, Nehemiah. Finally, a leader who will not only advocate on their behalf but will also roll up his sleeves and work alongside them. Can you imagine the conversations that took place at the wall?
Nehemiah was a man of prayer and pure motives. He was a man focused on the His calling and willing to do the work. These were a people who had taken advantage of each other, who had lost hope, who had taken on the ways of their captors, and now they were working alongside their godly leader. His leadership was not only accomplishing the task at hand, it was rebuilding their lives in the process.
- Read Philippians 2:1-11, how does Nehemiah’s example compare to that of Christ?
- In what ways does Christ’s example exceed Nehemiah’s?
- What are the arenas of leadership in your life? Identify one arena where it is most difficult to lead.
- How can you be more of a servant leader in that arena?