Text: Nehemiah 1:1-11
I have almost completed a new book on leadership with my mission lens focusing on the book of Nehemiah. The title is Godly Leadership: A Fresh Look at Nehemiah. My objective is to present Nehemiah’s leadership style from various viewpoints. This Journal will cover some of the chapters just to give my readers a gist of what I am preparing to be published soon. In this chapter, I discuss the heart of a Godly leader by analyzing Nehemiah’s activities based upon his own memoirs. There is one major point to be emphasized: the description of a Godly heart and its prayer focus in every situation.
A Godly leader loves his people wholeheartedly. This chapter discusses that a Godly leader is (a) sensitive to the problems of people, (b) personally concerned with and sensitive to their needs, (c) willing to meet the needs of others, (d) honest in admitting biblical truth about the love and justice of God in every situation, and (e) knowledgeable of the biblical definition of a covenant from the Old Testament perspective. Let’s now begin with description of a Godly leader’s heart.
The Description of a Godly Leader’s Heart
A Godly heart is sensitive to the problems of others. Nehemiah was concerned about the problem of his people and the city. Serving as a cupbearer to the King was a lucrative position. He and his nucleus family were living comfortably. But a Godly leader’s comfort is not in his personal achievement, even though he appreciates his blessings, but rather, in meeting the needs of others. All that we know about Nehemiah is what he wrote about himself. He was the son of Hacaliah. His name means: “Yahweh Comforts.” According to him, the entire episode began in the month of Kislev, which is November-December. “The citadel of Susa” (v. 1) was the winter residence of the Persian kings and Ecbatana was their summer residence. The events of Esther took place in Susa, as did Daniel’s vision in chapter 8 of Daniel.” We need to note here that some of Nehemiah’s families were in Jerusalem while he served in exile with the king of Babylon.
There are three men named Nehemiah mentioned in the OT after the period of the exile. (1) One Nehemiah was among the Jewish exiles who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel in 538 B.C. (Ezra 2:2; Neh. 7:7). He was one of the leaders. (2) Another Nehemiah was a ruler of half of the district of Beth-Zur who helped rebuild the Jerusalem wall in 444B.C. (Neh. 3:16). (3) The other Nehemiah was the son of Hacaliah, the cupbearer to the Persian king Artaxerxes. He pleaded to be sent to Judah to aid his fellow countrymen through their difficulties to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Neh.1:1-2:8). He was appointed governor of Judah for 12 years. It is not clear biblically whether these men descended from the same family line; they all held leadership positions among their people.
He met with his countrymen to enquire about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and about Jerusalem. The heart of a man of God always imitates the heart of Jesus Christ, because as Dr. Bill Bright, the founder and president of Campus Crusade for Christ International says, “God takes control of the heart of every believer.” God the Son, who, knowing the weakness of man due to sin, came to pay the price for our sins on the Cross of Calvary (Mt. 27:45-56; Lk. 23:44-49; Jn. 19:28-37). In the book of Esther, Mordecai stood firm in God and influenced Queen Esther, to save the Jews from Haman’s plan to massacre them. Another example is how Moses’ heart went out for his people in their suffering. This resulted in his abandonment of the Palace of Egypt. Knowing the love Moses had for his people, God sent him back to redeem them from the bondage of Pharaoh (Ex. 3:1ff). Martin Luther, the reformer, was highly educated theologically, but he felt that the Church had done injustice to mankind by not allowing all people to read the Bible for themselves. This serious problem was resolved through the faithful heart of that one man who brought about the Reformation. Because of Luther, we can read the Bible for ourselves today. Martin Luther King Jr. took America back to obeying its creed through the principle of nonviolence, adapted from Ghandi of India, to solve the racial problems in the United States of America.
There were politicians who were not Christians but felt led to correct some
unfairness in their respective countries: Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa stayed 27 years in prison, and from prison to the presidency just to destroy the Apartheid system in his country. Ghandi of India used nonviolence principles against the British and gained freedom for his country. You might ask yourself, what am I doing for my country, people, and the church? Next week, I will begin with the fact that a Godly heart is personally concerned with and is sensitive to the needs of others.
To be continued
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Nehemiah’s father Hacaliah is mentioned twice in the entire Bible [and only] in Nehemiah 1:1; 10:1. The third use of the name Hacaliah was in direct reference to a hill called Hacaliah where, it is believed that, David went into hiding from King Saul. 1 Samuel 23:19 reads, “The Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, ‘Is not David among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hacaliah, south of Jerusalem.?’’”
Breneman, M.Vol. 10: Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther(electronic ed.). Logos Library System;The New American Commentary (Nashville, Broadman: Holman Publishers.2001), 169.
Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. Tyndale Bible dictionary.Tyndale reference library (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001) 942.
An evangelism tool prepared by Bill Bright is titled, “Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?” It has been an effective tool for soul- winning for many decades.