Nehemiah: A Visionary Leader

Nehemiah : A Visionary Leader

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The Book of Nehemiah is an important one for Christian Leadership. Much of the model of leadership on which this web-site is based is found in Nehemiah : the origin of vision through prayer, the need to share vision, and enable and empower others to become involved in making it happen, and the need to maintain leadership through periods of conflict and opposition. Nehemiah was cupbearer to the Persian emperor, Artaxerxes. This was a significant position of trust, for a member of a Jewish minority in the Persian court. Nehemiah would have established personal credibility in his character to receive such an appointment, and together with the job would come prestige and significance. Over 140 years have passed since the sacking of Jerusalem by the conquering Babylonians, and generations of Jews have been in exile.

VISION AND CALLING : Read Nehemiah 1.

As Nehemiah learns of the state of Jerusalem and of the remnant of the Jewish people living there, it clearly has a profound effect, moving him to a period of fasting and prayer. Out of this prayer Nehemiah senses a clear calling and vision, identifying with the Jewish people and confessing their failure to follow God’s guidance. Nehemiah is clear that he is intrinsically linked with God’s answer to the prayer he has prayed.

Pause for Thought :

Nehemiah – What part has prayer played in the times of vision and calling that you have encountered?

Nehemiah – Can you think of times when God has used you as a part of the answer to prayers you have prayed. To find out more about vision development, explore our vision building process.

SHARING VISION : Read Nehemiah 2.

Nehemiah shares his vision with Artaxerxes, having carefully created an opening. Notice the immediate prayer of Nehemiah as the door of opportunity opens in verse 4. The result of sharing the vision in a non-threatening way is positive and Artaxerxes is supportive, agreeing to the requests for letters and allocating troops to go with Nehemiah. When the vision is shared with Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, the response is different. Nehemiah adopts a more assertive stance, yet one which is not confrontational. As Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem he carries out a strategic analysis of the situation, before sharing the vision with the Jewish remnant, in order to have a clearer view of the task in hand. The response of the Jews is positive, aided in part no doubt, by Nehemiah’s experience of God’s help in the conversations with Artaxerxes.

Pause for Thought :

Nehemiah -What factors determine how flexible you are in sharing a vision with people? When are you flexible, and when are you more assertive? iii. If you are in the process of developing or sharing a vision right now, what strategic analysis have you done? We offer some simple tools to aid strategic analysis.

IMPLEMENTATION : Read Nehemiah 3

The Jews divide the task up among themselves and start working. The narrative does not relate whether this was an easy task or not. For many teams, the allocation of work does not come easily, as personal agendas and uncertainty over team roles may conflict with the trust needed to share out the work of a team in the early stages.

Pause for Thought :

Nehemiah – For teams you have been involved with, can you think of instances where there has been high levels of trust within the team leading to easy sharing of work. Alternatively, are there times when the team has struggled to agree process and roles? For further information on these areas, explore our materials on building trust and on team development process.

HANDLING OPPOSITION : Read Nehemiah 4-6.14

During these three chapters we see opposition on three levels. During Chapter 4, we see overt opposition to the task from those outside, coming with ridicule and threats. Nehemiah responds by bolstering the confidence of the builders by stationing guards behind the least exposed areas, which also signals determination to complete the task, and also reminds the Jews of God’s hand of protection over them. In Chapter 5, the threat is coming internally, in the face of distractions over the culture and accepted norms of the society. Nehemiah’s handling of this demonstrates openness (he called a large meeting), integrity in not demanding the rights of his predecessors, and a commitment to Godly principles. The final attack, in Chapter 6, is personal. Nehemiah discerns the motives of his opponents, and refuses to play into their hands. Again he turns to the Lord in prayer (v9) and is given the discernment necessary to avoid the traps laid for him.

Pause for Thought :

Nehemiah- Thinking about your vision, is there any opposition to it? If so, is it active hostility or passive resistance. Are there side issues which others are seeking to use to distract you from the vision you have? You might like to spend some time in prayer about this, asking for discernment, wisdom and strength.


This thirteenth chapter of the book of Nehemiah details his second time as Governor of Jerusalem.

Pause for Thought :

Nehemiah – From your reading through the book of Nehemiah, how would you describe his character? Try writing down the top characteristics that come to mind. Which of those can you associate with? Which of these would you like God to strengthen in your leadership? You might like to close this bible study by spending some more time in prayer asking God to bless you in these areas, and to further strengthen the characteristics and gifts that He has already given you.

4 responses to “Nehemiah: A Visionary Leader

  1. Pingback: keeping an eye on things | mobilisedbygod·

  2. Pingback: quiet planning | mobilisedbygod·

  3. I would not be the only one to have used Nehemiah as the basis for workshops on leadership. There are leadership lessons throughout and anyone with a leadership ministry would do well to study Nehemiah in depth.

    Thanks for your thoughts here.

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