Nehemiah’s desire to lead

In the book of Nehemiah, a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes becomes governor of Judah and helps the people rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. His leadership is marked by prayer, relying on God, and wisdom, making the right decision at the right time. Chapter 1 opens in Susa, the winter residence of the Persian kings, around November/December, 446 B.C. Nehemiah (meaning “the Lord comforts” in Hebrew) asks a friend about the people of Judah who had returned nearly 90 years earlier in 537 B.C. His friend, Hanani, informs Nehemiah that the Jews living in Jerusalem have no city walls. They are in trouble because there is no protection from foreign enemies who could easily attack.

This information is devastating to Nehemiah. He reacts with sadness over the news, and then fasts, going without food so he can pray to God. Nehemiah talks to the Lord about the news by first admitting who God is–the Supreme Being who is to be feared but also adored as One who keeps his promises. Nehemiah continues his prayer by confessing the sins of his people and himself. They had violated their covenant with God and justly deserved their punishment in exile in Babylon. But Nehemiah also thanks God for His promises and blessings to His people despite their sin. In light of God’s mercies, Nehemiah requests success before the king of Persia, Artaxerxes, and seeks release from his cupbearer duties to lead the Jews in rebuilding their city walls in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah is a wonderful example of someone who leaves his comfort zone and desires to help others by serving and leading. His leadership is noteworthy because he can make a difference–he just needs an opportunity, and asks God for that. God will open that door of opportunity for Nehemiah.

As you apply Nehemiah’s book to you own life, you can ask how can you lead. In what area of life can you impact other people? Leave your comfort zone and ask God how you can bless others.

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