“16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.17 Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.’ 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.’ So they began this good work.” NIV

Someone has defined leadership as ‘the art of getting people to do what they ought to do because they want to do it.’

There’s a time to think, pray and plan. But there’s also a time to speak. Nehemiah gathered the facts, assessed the situation, then spoke to the people. Look how he went about his task:

Defining reality (17a): It was Max Du Pree who famously said that the first task of leadership is to ‘define reality.’ That’s what Nehemiah did. He didn’t for one moment try to ‘gild the lily.’ He spelled out how bad the situation was. When in a crisis it’s not for leaders to act like we’re not. We have to face reality. ‘Leaders must not live in a dream world. They must face facts honestly and accept the bad news as well as the good news.’ Warren Wiersbe: Old Testament Commentary, p.757

Rallying the troops (17b): He issued a call to necessary action. The situation was intolerable, but he said, ‘We can do something about this.’

Encouraging their hearts (18a): Nehemiah’s remarkable personal testimony of how God had guided and provided must have put new life into them. God was with them, and above all they could look to him in this massive undertaking.

Look at what all of this led to:

Starting to build (18b): Here is the power of godly leadership to motivate and make things happen – things that first of all are birthed in the heart of a leader as he, or she, walks with God.

‘It takes both the hands of leadership and the hands of partnership to accomplish the work of the Lord. Leaders can’t do the job by themselves, and workers can’t accomplish much without leadership.’ Warren Wiersbe: OT Commentary, p.757.

PRAYER: We pray for all leaders, in the church and in every area of society. May they lead with God-given wisdom, courage, faith and strength. Please help them this day in the great responsibilities they carry.