Seven Simple Steps…..
The words of Nehemiah ….. And it came to pass ….. as I was in Shushan the palace, that Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews …..and …. Jerusalem. And they said unto me, the remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. (Neh 1:1 -3) …..So the wall was finished …. in fifty and two days. (Neh 6:15)
When it comes to the subject of leadership and success, there is certainly no shortage of resources around. Producers and promoters of self-help material have flooded a hungry market for self-development and filled the shelves of bookshops with audios, books, CDs and videos on these subjects. Seminars, conferences and infomercials on early morning TV join at the chorus and repeat the refrain
Those who are committed to excellence in personal growth and spiritual development continue to look out for effective resources to help them grow as they apply in their own lives and assess the suitability for others.
Having founded “Rahme Relationship Resources” a number of years ago with a very similar purpose in mind which was to motivate and mobilise others in this particular area, I’ve had access to a great deal of material on these subjects.
On close inspection, like many like-minded readers, I find that their value ranges from insignificant in their content to interesting in their concept; from seductive in their promises to destructive with their philosophy.
Thankfully there are those well-known authors that are quite instructive and even inspiring.
However even the best that are quite helpful, will eventually need revising and updating since they are either written by finite men and women and/ or based on limited human understanding.
What if there was a book that was even more than inspiring; it was actually inspired! What if this same book was so up to date with its contents that it never needs updating and was so relevant with its concepts that it never needs revising!
The good news is that there is such a book. Tucked away in the Old Testament and named after its central character, the book of Nehemiah is a leadership manual for laymen. . It is an autobiography of a loyal cupbearer to the king in Persia who rose to be the governor of the people in Judah.
This book is visionary – it is the mission of one ordinary person with an out-of-the-ordinary team of people to complete an extra-ordinary project.
This book is valuable – it is the memoirs of an effective leader and his manuscript on dynamic leadership.
This book is versatile – it is a manual on influence and impact for leaders in all walks of life; It speaks to and connects with the corporate world, the government bodies, the church life and the mission field.
Before we can fully appreciate the gems of leadership and nuggets of success in this treasure box, we need first to take a fresh look at the background and the context of the book of Nehemiah .A quick review of the nation of Israel’s history is necessary
God‘s covenant was:
· Commenced with Abraham (Gen 15:18-21; 17:1-8),
· Confirmed with Moses (Deut 12; 5,11,14,18,26) and
· Continued with David (2 Sam 7:12-16).
This once great and United Kingdom of twelve tribes under King Saul and David was split and divided into two kingdom, under King Solomon in 931B.C over a taxation issue. Ten tribes broke away and formed the Northern Kingdom of Israel with Samaria as the capital. Two tribes made the Southern Kingdom of Judah with Jerusalem as its capital.
In 722 B.C the Assyrians invade the Northern Kingdom and wipe them out the history books. Then in 606 B.C, (and also in 597 B.C & 586 B.C) the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar walks in to Jerusalem, burns the house and the temple of God, breaks down the wall and the gates and takes her people captive (2 Chron.36: 18-19).
Then in 536 B.C it’s the Medes and the Persians turn to rule and to reign. One Kingdom removes the other; and one king replaces the other. Consequently the Jews are now free to return to their own land after seventy years of Babylonian captivity.
1. Zerubabel the prince led the first group back to Jerusalem and eventually after much opposition the temple was complete and the sacrifices reinstituted (Ezra 1-6).
2. Nearly 80 years later, the second exodus returned in 457 B.C under the watchful eyes of Ezra the priest who faithfully taught the people in the Law of Moses and spiritually established them in the way of God (Ezra 7-10).
3. Last but not least, 13 years later, a third and final group left in 444 B.C and made their way back to Jerusalem. This time however, it is not a prince or a priest that God chooses to lead His people back, but an ordinary layman. His name was Nehemiah.
He was a down to earth but a dedicated leader with a heavenly – imparted vision and a humanly- impossible mission:
“Return to Jerusalem, rebuilt the wall, repair the gates and rejoice with the people”
THE BIG PICTURE
Let’s now turn to the book of Nehemiah and catch the last historical account in the Old Testament. As we hold closely the journal of his journey
in our hands, we have before our very eyes the seven simple steps that turned an ordinary layman into an extra ordinary leader.
We’ll draw on his rich experiences and draw out some timeless principles for servant leadership and lasting success.
(Neh 1:4a) And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, ….
The news about “the city of his fathers’ sepulchres” was so devastating and distressing that it moved this compassionate man to tears. Nehemiah was not an emotionally weak or an insecure person. His soul was not so fragile that he would cry at a drop of a hat or a sound of a melancholy tune. He was not afflicted with a self-focused sensitivity that would drive him to jump to unwarranted conclusions nor was he the kind who is easily offended and hurt because of a simple misunderstanding.