I hope you have been enjoying this series on Nehemiah. There are so many applications that can be made from this Old Testament leader. If you have not been reading previous posts, go to my website and look for the first title (When Hearing Produced Action) posted on February 27, 2017.
Through the long 900-mile trek from Susa to Jerusalem and surveying of the broken down walls of the city, Nehemiah has been stalwart in his mission to restore the walls of the city to protect the few residents left there. Only his consistent prayers exceed his skill in assessing the task ahead and the strategy for dividing the people in teams to do the work. They remind us of what he sees as foundational to complete his mission. They are even more important when the workers are taunted and discouraged by the story’s two major antagonists, Tobiah and Sanballat, who seek to tear apart Nehemiah’s character and reputation when they fail to deter the workers.
So far we have seen three key things about Nehemiah’s leadership:
- A godly leader prays
- A godly leader acts
- A godly leader faces opposition
Nehemiah sees there is more to be done than rebuild the walls. In the absence of godly leadership and the taunts of their enemies, the Jews who were there were not unified or for one another. The difficult conditions for the largely poor people who were trying to have hope for the land of their fathers was worsened by the lack of good harvests to provide food for themselves or revenue from selling their excess. And in addition to the lack of good resources of any kind, they were still expected to pay taxes to the Persian government. That challenge provided opportunity for those who were richer to see the possibility for gain for themselves.
To comply with the relentless demands of the taxes by the Persians, the poorest among them had no choice but to give up or give over whatever lands and homes they had to their richer Jewish brothers to get the needed money for their taxes. They were even forced to sell their children as slaves to those who should have been helping them—members of their own culture and faith.
It can be easy for us to be critical of how these people were responding to one another, but perhaps we should be cautious and consider how we as believers treat one another in the body of Christ today. We may not need to turn over lands and houses or sell our children as slaves, but do we show support and care for those among us who are struggling in any and all ways? We are called to not only pray for such people, but also to act in kindness and show care for them.
Nehemiah had observed the wealthier citizens were abusing the poorest of those living in Jerusalem. As a result, the rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer.
Not only does Nehemiah notice this, once again he acts. He sees a wrong and sets about to call the people into account for their choices and behaviors. His challenge to them shows how effective accountability can be in pulling back those who are sinning from their decisions. He demonstrates godly leadership and how do those he challenges respond?
“We will give it back…and we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.” Neh. 5:12
Having heard their pledge, Nehemiah does not stop there. He was probably aware they had been behaving this way for a long time so he adds an additional admonition. He shakes the folds of his own robe that would have had little pockets in it where personal things could be saved. He tells those who have pledged to stop their abusive behavior that God would shake them out of His pockets if they did not follow through on their pledge.
What we now add to the list of qualities evident in a godly leader is this: a godly leader cares.
And it is not merely a passive caring. He doesn’t simply hug them, pat them, and pray for these people, he confronts those who are harming them. He was in charge and he could have expected and received privileges of any number of kinds from these people and taken advantage of his position, but Nehemiah did the exact opposite. He was a humble servant-leader who took no honor or privilege for himself.
What a powerful picture of Christlikeness we see here in the midst of the Old Testament in the person of Nehemiah!
How easy it can be for power to seduce the best of leaders in our churches or government who started as servant-leaders, but then accepted accolades and privileges that set them above and apart from the people they are to serve.
To remain godly and humble as a leader requires those around the leader to love that leader enough to have the courage to confront him or her when evidences of abuse of power begin to appear. Accountability with love is how we all grow and mature in our character. It is also how we demonstrate we are Christ’s.
A godly leader cares and it shows!
19 thoughts on “Character Produces Caring”
Pam, Nehemiah was such a man of character. Thank you for showing us the qualities he exemplified. I really had not thought of all the things you pulled out of the scripture here. Very good examples to follow. Thank you!
And I see I have replied twice! I couldn’t find my other comment and had bookmarked to come back to later thinking the other didn’t go through. : ) So I replied again and there was my earlier comment! LOL
Nehemiah does have a lot to offer us in 2017. I had just spent time going through it again recently and continued to see new things. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking time to comment.
Pam- I enjoyed your post about Nehemiah. I’m going to read your other posts!
If leaders would follow the Bible’s example we would be a different nation, wouldn’t we?
I agree with Christian really caring for others as Jesus has shown us to do!
Thanks so much! Yes, we would be very much a different nation.
What a protective spirit Nehemiah had. And, that simple shake of the robe would have put the fear of God in me, b/c — can you imagine being told you’d be shaken right out of God’s pockets? No thanks, I rather like it here in the safety of God’s pockets. 🙂 — Great series you’re doing, Pam. Nehemiah is one of my favorites. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your heart with #ChasingCommunity. ((hug))
Pam, how true this is! And, it doesn’t just apply to “leaders.” Christians should care…enough to act. Thank you for this reminder and for linking up at Encouraging Word Wednesday this week!
Thank you for sharing your insights with us. I was struck by your comment about Nehemiah… “Only his consistent prayers exceed his skill in assessing the task ahead and the strategy for dividing the people in teams to do the work.”
I was awake through the early morning hours thinking about this whole idea of my task ahead and strategizes teams to do the work in our kids ministry. We are full and above capacity in our Kids church space and I need God’s wisdom to know how to move forward. And I was reminded through these words that it is through our consistent prayers that will help us assess the task ahead and have the strategy for dividing the people in teams to do the work.
Thank you… these words blessed and encouraged my heart today! I’m even going to make a note card of these words to keep them posted on my desk as a reminder! Thanks! (Your neighbor at #HeartEncouragement)
Thanks so much for sharing how the Lord used what He led me to write! That is major encouragement to me as I consider what I post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I want my words to reflect His heart and His words to all of us because they are surely what bring life.
As I hear about your Kids ministry and the space challenge you face, I want to applaud all the things you are clearly doing that draw them to come and bring others with them. Well done!! How blessed He surely is by this! I will trust He will supply the space and workers to meet the need!
Blessings on your day and week!
Pam, Thank you for this powerful reminder of what compassion looks like. Nehemiah was a man a great character. We can learn so much from looking at his life.
Nehemiah somehow managed to be very focused and also very compassionate — an unusual combination. I’m learning the importance of this in my teaching. It’s great to love the Bible and to express Truth, but I also need to love the women I teach, and when God helps me to do that, I am able to speak into their lives in ways that they can hear.
Truly, this is something God has to do in our hearts.
Amen, my friend! Loving those we lead authenticates our teaching and ministry and certainly makes us more Christlike.
Thank you for sharing this post at the #WednesdayAIM #LinkUp #BlogParty. I shared it on social media.
Pam, that is so good. A godly leader cares enough to confront wrong. I enjoyed and learned from your post. Thanks so much!
Hi Pam! I really like that quote from Bonhoeffer. What a great thing to read during the season of Lent, when we all seek to change, and be more like Christ than ourselves.
It is easy to judge the things that happen in the bible, and think we’d be so much better, but I try to turn the situation around and have it shine a light on my own life. Do I judge others who are trying to do good? Do I stand in the way of spiritual and human progress because of my own limited view of the situation? Those are powerful questions that this post brings up. God can do anything with us, but we have to be open for the change. He does the work in us.
Hi there! Thanks! I loved the quote as well. All your questions are ones we all do well to consider in an ongoing basis to check how we are doing in all those areas. Have a beautiful evening! Very very windy here today, but grateful for sun after several very gray, cloudy, rainy, gloomy, chilly days!!