There have been many times in my life; as a leader in my home (Dad/Husband), at work (Supervisor), at church (pastor/director) and in the community (community leadership) where I have seen or experienced things in my own ‘world of influence’ that were not right and needed some adjustments and improvements.  These situations seemed to vary in nature from people issues to physical things.  As a leader, I was faced with either helping to correct the issues or not doing anything and letting the problems grow.  As I would discover,being confronted with these dilemmas is probably one of the most challenging aspects of leadership that I could face.

For all of us, as leaders, depending upon our own character traits, personality and how we are ‘wired’, some of us could have a more challenging time personally dealing with issues – how comfortable are we in ‘rocking the boat’, possibly making people mad, dealing with rejection, standing alone on issues or leading the ‘troops’ where they might not initially want to go?  All of these can present a very real and daunting challenge.

The book of Nehemiah is a great example to us about leading through adversity. Nehemiah heard that the city walls of Jerusalem had been torn down and burned.  The city’s residents were left dejected, defeated and unprotected.  He was heartbroken for the city and its people.  Here is a brief step by step timeline of how his story unfolds and how Nehemiah navigates, reacts and leads through challenging and life threatening situations.

  1. He is told of a situation that is occurring in Jerusalem. He prays to the Lord and Nehemiah is challenged and ‘stirred’ to do something about it (Neh. 1:3-4)
  2. He makes a plan to assess the issue (Neh. 2:11-13)
  3. Once seeing the need for change, he again makes a plan on how to fix the problem.  Knowing that he can’t fix the problem by himself, he rallies the people to get involved (Neh. 2:17-18)
  4. The inevitable happens – opposition to his plan confronts him (Neh. 2:19, 4:1-3,8)
  5. In the face of the opposition, as a good leader, Nehemiah responds first by taking the problem to God (Neh. 4:4-5)
  6. In the midst of him taking these issues before the Lord, Nehemiah receives reports that with the intense physical labor required to rebuild the wall and the ensuing intense opposition, weariness is setting in upon the workers.  Nehemiah responds with words of encouragement and specific plans to help them through the difficult days (Neh. 4:10-14).  He holds his ground to finish the work.
  7. Then God responds… in His time and foils the opposition’s plans intended to stop the work and discredit Nehemiah. (Neh. 4:15).  If what we do is inspired by the Holy Spirit, nothing will be able to stop us (Acts 5:38-40)
  8. As the work continues to progress, Nehemiah must continue to oversee, guide and manage his team until the job is finished (Neh. 4:13-23)
  9. Once the wall had been completed, Nehemiah delegates oversight authority of Jerusalem to a trustworthy team member; however, he returns sometime later to check on how things were going (Neh. 13:6)
  10. Once returning though, he again begins addressing some issues and situations that had risen (Neh. 13)

As leaders, the above progression can be an on-going cycle for us – whether it’s in our families, at work, in the community or even in our own personal lives.  Life seems to be a consistent cycle of assessing, planning, managing, defending and delegating.

So, why was Nehemiah so successful?  He knew he was called to lead – he knew he needed God’s help to complete the task – he knew he couldn’t do it all by himself – he knew how to recruit the help he needed – he knew to go to God when things got tough and he knew never to give up on what God had called him to do.  Let’s follow Nehemiah’s example.  Those around us depend upon it!

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