How many people do you know who are willing to leave the comfort of their lives and social status to take on the burden of those who need help!? Nehemiah has much to teach us about caring and sacrificial leadership.
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.” So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:1-4
Nehemiah was a cupbearer to the king. That meant that he would be the last person who would examine the king’s drink before it got into his hands. Being a cupbearer is a trusted position. Nehemiah would have lived in the king’s quarters be available to the king at any time, and he would have had a comfortable life. Nehemiah was person of integrity and faithfulness to have been placed in that position.
Nehemiah asked Hanani (a fellow Jew) about the condition of the Israelites in Jerusalem who had returned from captivity. Usually when we ask about how someone is doing, it is a casual curiosity. We don’t intend to do anything about it. However, that was not the case for Nehemiah. When he heard the condition of the his fellow Jews in Jerusalem, it caused him great distress, which led him to cry out before God with prayer and fasting. Why would a man at his coveted position care about the condition of the Israelites in the homeland!?
How many leaders these days show such a deep concern for the flock? Who seeks the Lord with such a desperation for the condition of their flock or the lost!? Or how many fast and pray for potential bad laws and policies that may get instituted in our land!? Most likely, some do so, but most of us don’t seek God that desperately! Instead, we have programs, committees, and marketing teams that make recommendations as to what should to be done to attract people to church or design solutions for people’s needs. However, nothing replaces seeking God desperately for the answers and asking Him to give us divine solutions for the long-standing problems around us.
Nehemiah cared deeply about the Israelites and sought God for an answer to their condition. His fasting and prayer took about a period of four months. We need these types of leaders in the body of Christ who are about the Father’s business and care deeply about His flock!
When you read the entire Nehemiah (chapter 1), you find that Nehemiah asked God for forgiveness of his sins, his father’s sins, and the Israelites sins. It would have been easy to just ask God for the forgiveness of the Israelites’ sins, but he included himself in it. He didn’t see himself any better than them because he had a prestigious position in the king’s palace. He had the humility to see himself as one of them regardless of his position in life.
As leaders, we should see ourselves as one of the people. Just because we have a God-given function in the body of Christ, it doesn’t make us any better than them, and neither are we any holier than them. We are called to live a sanctified life, but this does not mean that we don’t sin any longer or are exempt from asking for forgiveness on a daily basis.
I will continue with this subject in the next devotional.