LEADERSHIP DEVOTION: The Results of Faith

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Read Nehemiah 2:11-20

In 587 BC, the Babylonians plundered, pillaged and destroyed Jerusalem. Almost all the leaders were deported. This was Babylon’s method – conquer and divide. And so the country languished. When the Persians defeated the Babylonians in 539 BC, they allowed the Jews to return to their land. Some did, but things didn’t go well for them. Jerusalem was a shambles and new local vested interests controlled the place. It was tough going.

Nehemiah was a high-ranking official in the Persian court with direct access to the emperor. He was also a Jew with a passion for God’s people and their capital, Jerusalem, and he was distraught at the state of affairs in Jerusalem. As he mourned and fasted and prayed, God gave Nehemiah a faith vision. In this passage, he describes it as “what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem” (2:12). That sure sounds like a faith vision to me.

But when Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he was cautious. He didn’t want to sound like the expert from Persia who had all the answers. He carefully checked out the situation before he gathered the leaders and shared his faith vision – rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem together (2:17).

Nehemiah was not only a godly man; he was also a great leader. Notice how clear his faith vision was. Notice how he built faith in the leaders by sharing stories of how God had already provided in grace (2:18). Notice how he called everyone to have a part in this faith vision. And Nehemiah got the buy-in he was looking for. Even under the pressure of the mocking local power brokers (2:19-20), his faith remained incredibly strong.

Nehemiah is a great example of how faith is foundational in leadership. He was not a visionary but a leader who received God’s revelation, stepped out in faith, helped his followers adopt this faith vision, and then continued to pursue it with great faith.

But how did those who followed Nehemiah benefit from his faith? It wasn’t easy for them. They had to work hard. There was significant opposition. It was frightening at times. They had to deal with the internal conflict that had been simmering away. But a disillusioned, divided, despairing people became a united, hope-filled, confident nation once again. That’s what together pursuing God’s revelation with faith can do.