I’m indebted to my wife, Jilly, for this ‘seed’ thought. As we were talking about chapter 13 one morning recently, she remarked on Nehemiah’s humility. He had been a strong, important leader in Jerusalem, but then resumed his servant role to the king of Persia. Of course, if you think back to the beginning of the story, there had always been an agreement that he would return, and so he did. He kept his word. But he was humble, and adaptable.
Now in truth, Nehemiah was a servant in both settings: a servant leader in Jerusalem, and a servant servant (!!) in Persia. But I’m sure we can see that while he was in Judah he had a higher profile. He was very much the ‘main man’. But when he came to the end of his mission, he was willing to retreat into the background and serve in a different way.
In life there are times and seasons. For some reading today, it maybe that you have, or have had, a senior position of power and prominence. Nothing is more certain than this: all leaders are ‘interim’. When the curtain comes down on one role, there will still be duty to be done in another. May we, by God’s grace, be found faithful wherever we are and whatever we are doing.
I heard a senior pastor say recently, ‘On my better days I remember that I am primarily a child of God who just happens to be leading a church at this moment in time.’ I thought there was helpful perspective in his comment. However, he admitted that not every day is a ‘better day.’ ‘When I forget this,’ he said, ‘I tend to measure myself by my performance, and I think I’m only as good as the last conversation I had or sermon I preached.’ His point was that, if we are not careful, our identity, as pastors, can get confused with our temporary roles. We may not always be doing what we are currently doing, but we will always be God’s children. I think, deep down, Nehemiah never forgot who he was before God.
Our true value is not in what we do, but who we are.