Not only does Nehemiah 2 illustrate the providence of God, but it also says a great deal about working with people. You cannot build alone. Nehemiah went to Jerusalem and led the people to build back the walls of the city. Together, they did it in only 52 days! Building together takes the following:
People see leaders and think, “they have it made!” Leadership is a place of honor, but it is also a place of humility. Nehemiah did not arrive and say, “Let’s get started.” He was there three days and didn’t tell anyone where he was or what he was doing.
“It’s lonely at the top” but God can use those lonely times. When Moses was alone, God spoke through a burning bush. When Mary was alone, an angel told her of things to come. When John was alone, he authored Revelation. Character is what you are when no one else is looking, and what you are willing to stand for when everyone is looking. Successful leaders know not only how to handle themselves in public, but in private. A leader cannot be effective in public until he has prepared himself in private. Moses spent 40 years preparing on the back side of the desert. Paul spent three years in the Arabian desert.
After Nehemiah’s time alone, he took a few men with him and they began to inspect the condition of the wall. The Hebrew word means to look carefully at the extent of the damage. Do your due diligence. Before you start, do your homework! Answer the questions of why, what, when, and how. Before you can lead, you have to know where you are going! The old Chinese proverb is still true. He who thinks he is leading when no one is following is really just out for a walk! Inspection is so important at the beginning, and all throughout, the project. People tend to do what you inspect not what you expect.
Nehemiah identified himself with the problem. He was not born there and could have said, “I’m new here and you need to go to work. Y’all have made a big mess!” When he was finally ready to present the need to the people and discuss it, he chose his words carefully. He says, “you see the distress we are in… let us build the wall…” (v. 17). We must all do our part. We must all build together!
There are no lone rangers in ministry. Nehemiah could not build the wall by himself, nor could he do it with a few leaders. He had to appeal for everyone’s help. He gave the invitation, “Let us rise up and build…” (v. 18). Too many churches, businesses, marriages, and parents are not pulling together. BUILD TOGETHER! God can use anyone who does not care who gets the credit.
People will try to discourage you. People began to mock, but Nehemiah did not back down or pull out. He confidently said, “The God of heaven will prosper us” (v. 20). Every leader must be able to handle criticism. Every time God is at work, the devil will oppose it. Just remember that Jesus, too, was despised and rejected. There are not enough demons in Hell to stop the church of the Lord Jesus Christ! Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
The devil may be the prince of this world but Jesus is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! The King is higher than the prince! When God calls you to lead a project and bring people together, remember Nehemiah. God was faithful to him, and when you rely on Him, He will be faithful to you!