(This is blog 6 in a series of blogs about leadership lessons from the life of Nehemiah.  If you missed the previous blogs, you can email me at jerry@schmoyer.net)

When Nehemiah first got to Jerusalem, the focus was on rebuilding the walls of the city. When that was completed, it was time for spiritual rebuilding to start. Ezra and others worked with Nehemiah. He didn’t try to do everything alone. Nehemiah was the political leader while Ezra was the spiritual leader. Ezra taught the people, and a great revival took place, the first ever recorded among the Jews (Nehemiah 8:4 – 10:39).

Today, too, teamwork is necessary in any ministry. No one man can do it alone. We need help from others, and others are able to do things we aren’t gifted to do. Moses needed helpers, so did Paul. Churches in the New Testament had a team of elders who shared the load as each did what he was gifted and trained to do. We, too, need to share the workload with others. Men, include your wife in that group. She is gifted by God to serve in ways you aren’t. She can add wisdom and insight that can be very helpful.

Ezra taught God’s Word (Nehemiah 8:5-6) and God used it to bring revival. The people stood all day while Ezra taught. When he was done, they didn’t want to go home, but stayed to do the same thing the next day. God had put an appetite in them for His Word. Always focus all you do on God’s Word. The main responsibility of each leader is to teach God’s Word (1 Timothy 3:2; 2 Timothy 2:24).

With whom do you share your ministry load? Whose gifts do you use to help you in the work you do? What gifts does your wife have that help you? Do you let her use them? Do you have an appetite to learn God’s Word for your own growth and so you can share it with others?  Ask God to give you more desire to know the Bible.

Unfortunately, the story of the Jews in the Old Testament doesn’t end with this revival. The last recorded event before 400 years of silence is not a good one. Nehemiah’s time away from the king in Babylon ran out, and he returned to his responsibilities in Babylon. His brother replaced him as governor in Jerusalem. For a while things went well after the revival, but gradually the people again drifted from God and into sin.  When Nehemiah returned after being away for 11 years, he found things in a very bad state. Gentiles were allowed into the temple store rooms to sell things and the people had stopped tithing. They weren’t keeping the Sabbath so they could work more and make more money. They were intermarrying with unbelievers and sinful practices were coming into their worship (Nehemiah 13:4-10). God had sent Malachi to preach to the people, and he addressed these sins but they didn’t repent (book of Malachi).

When Nehemiah saw how things were, he prayed before he did anything.  He always did this.   Then he took the necessary actions to set things right and correct the sinful practices (Nehemiah 13:11-31). It must have been discouraging to him to see that all his hard work had not lasted and needed to be done again. I’m sure God often feels the same way about us!

A godly leader must persevere no matter how many times he has to do the same thing or how long it takes for changes to come. Then, when people go back to sin, we must persevere even longer to get them to change their ways and follow God again. Sometimes it takes great love and great patience to do this, but it’s an important trait for a godly leader.  That’s how Jesus is with us and we must be like Him with others.

How do you respond when someone you have taught and trained for a long time turns from the Lord? What do you do when your work shows little or no progress for many years? Can you faithfully persevere and continue to serve even when there are no results? Think of how Jesus perseveres with you, and follow that example in how you are with others.


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