By Andrena Sawyer
I've been going through the book of Nehemiah during my morning devotions. I finally made my way to Chapter 3. After three verses, I was tempted to skip the entire chapter. I may be alone, and if so, please reserve judgement, but I've struggled with biblical genealogical records. The names are difficult to pronounce, the themes are not always obvious, and sometimes they’re a little boring to read (please don’t take out the guillotine). As I kept reading the chapter (which isn't even a genealogical record), reminding myself that all parts of the Word of God are equally important, I came across one of the most practical revelations I've had in a while. By the time I got to verse 8, "...and Hananiah, one of the perfume-makers made repairs...," I knew I'd missed something critical and had to go back to the beginning. This time around, I read with much more focus. I noticed that v. 12 mentioned daughters working alongside their fathers, v. 26 mentioned the temple servants, and it ends with v. 32, "...the goldsmiths and merchants made repairs." Notice a theme? Neither did I, initially. What I almost missed by skipping today's devotion was a key component of leadership: the ability to rally unlikely people together for a common cause. How can a cupbearer lead perfume-makers, servants, goldsmiths and merchants to effectively work alongside skilled construction and technical workers?
The story of Nehemiah shows a familiar formula in the Christian faith. Step 1: There is a need. Step 2: God intervenes and raises up a person. Step 3: Opposition comes. Step 4: God increases faith. Step 5: God's people win. It's an age-old story, and it ought to give believers great peace and joy. However, most of us miss some of the most critical lessons during steps 3 and 4 because we've lost sight of steps 1, 2 and 5. For Nehemiah, the call was to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Step 2 required much more capacity than he had…alone. However he did it, he was able to enlist the help of the most unlikely workers to complete the mission. This is a key element of leadership—casting vision and building capacity to bring it to completion.
I love the last verse of chapter 3, "and between the room above the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and merchants made repairs." God gives the provision, and He allows us the privilege of being stewards of His provision. As leaders, sometimes the provision isn't obvious. It takes patience to bring out the best in that intern that needs more training than you think you have time for, or to see the good in the in-kind gift that you secretly resent because you'd rather get the financial contribution. Sometimes it does not all make sense, but leadership requires that we cast the vision well, rally the troops, however unlikely they may be, in order to get the work done.
Have you had a similar experience in your leadership journey? I'd love to hear it!