CHURCH BUSINESS: Where are men like Nehemiah today
By Oludare Mayowa
One of the key Bible characters I admire greatly is Nehemiah, the ex-steward to a Persian king who rose to become the governor of Judah through the dint of hard work, perseverance and commitment.
From the first day he stepped forward to help rebuild the fallen wall of Jerusalem, his journey to greatness began. He demonstrated uncommon strength of his faith in God as the only one who can bring to pass the transformation and destiny of His people.
He chose to demonstrate courage in the face of alienation and possible injury or death and forge on with the task ahead of him without wavering.
In spite of his lowly beginning as a steward to the king, he was not deterred by what should have been obstacle and rose up to the challenges of leading the rebuilding of the broken wall of Jerusalem.
Centuries after his demise, the lessons from his action have become case studies in many business schools on leadership, project management, planning and financial management.
He was self motivated to lead his people to rebuild the broken wall of a territory captured and laid waste by the enemies while all he was able to accomplish within the shortest time frame bore the mark of his personal sacrifice and commitment.
He was a leader who was not primarily concerned about personal gain but dedicated his entire attention to the task before him and the need to accomplish it.
His personal example of commitment to the task drew same from those he surrounded himself with and help him to finish the work in record time.
He was not deterred by the machinations and the distractions of people like Sanballat and Tobiah while he readily ignored the naysayers who derided his efforts as feeble.
He was a visionary leader who saw what others could not see, even at his duty post in Shushan, he recognized the need to rebuild the wall, put together his plans, envisaged possible hindrance to his decision and tackled such ahead of time.
He refused to incline his hear to false prophets who were hired by the enemies and was guided by his intuition to rid himself of the influence of enemies called friends.
He was also a leader who delegated responsibility to his team members and ensured religious implementation of God’s law and His status in governing the people.
He also led the people to dedicate their lives to the service of God.
“Moreover, from the time I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year until the thirty second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years neither I nor my brothers ate the governor’s provisions. But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver.”
This is how selfless leadership is defined; they don’t deploy their position and influence for selfish aggrandizement nor exploits it to buy land “because the bondage was heavy on this people.”
How is the personality of Nehemiah contrast with what we have today across political and spiritual spectrums?
From the evidences around us, some of today’s leaders demonstrate tendencies for self-serving rather than serving God and meeting the needs of His people.
The kind of leadership quality exhibited by Nehemiah is rare in our generation as many of the emerging leaders are more focused on building personal empire than building the broken wall of our father’s house.
How many of our leaders in the church can beat their chest and claim that all their investment in the church is primarily as a result of love for their father’s house? Many have allowed the pecuniary gains accrued in their service as motivation for the work of the ministry.
The lessons from the autobiography of Nehemiah are many for today’s leaders who need to refocus their attention towards the work and rededicate themselves to personal commitment to the work of God and selfless service to mankind.
While there is nothing wrong for leaders who work on the altar to partake in the altar, it is important that today’s leader recline themselves from not only partaking in the eating on the altar but chose to consume the altar itself.
Nehemiah was more concerned about the rebuilding of the wall and the rededication of the lives of the people to the covenant of God than expanding his personal fiefdom and “did not buy any land” as done by today’s leaders who use their influence to acquire more than they need.
In handling the resources of the house of God, he was guided by the need to be transparent and chose those who can do the work and not those who can bootlick and worship at his feet.
The essence of his work is to protect the people of God from the invasion from the enemies and he set his mind to do all he can to ensure the success of the task.
He was a man who was conscious of his place in God’s reckoning than man’s recognition “because of the fear of God.”
His exemplary leadership should be a great lesson for many of today’s leaders who are carried away by the accolades than the accomplishments.
On my way to Abuja some years back, I met one of the former chief executives of one of Nigerian banks at the airport also on his way to the federal capital.
The first thing that attracted my attention to him was the fact that he handled his luggage by himself unlike his practice when he used to head one of the country’s biggest banks.
In his days at the bank, no one can join him in the same elevator as he moved around with a retinue of aides and hanger on, but what happened after he was sacked from the same bank he cofounded with other, he became an ordinary mortal like the rest of us.
It was a great philosopher that says ‘the best of men are still mere men,” dust we are and dust we shall all return no matter the height we will ever attain.
Every leader should learn to dedicate their life to work toward the kind of legacy they would want to bequeath to the coming generation and not the abundant of wealth they intend to leave behind for their children.
The church and the nation will be a better place if only our leaders would have their eyes fixed on the purpose of their callings and not allow themselves to be distracted by noise pollution around them.
Is it that Nehemiah did not possess any character flaws? Not really, his inability to raise a good successor who could easily step into his shoes in his absence was one of his few shortcomings.
His failed to reproduce his kind, and implant his vision in the heart of one of his team member unlike what Jesus did by grooming a successor in Peter and later handed over the leadership of the church to him, Nehemiah discovered toward the tail end of his reign that succession is key to success.
Notwithstanding, he was able to make up for that with his administrative acumen and his decision to appoint faithful men to head the treasury and key position in his administration.
The lesson from that is that each leader at the forefront must ensure intentional plans for leadership succession, reproducing leaders that share same vision is the only way a leader could claim to have been a success in the ministry.
Otherwise whatever efforts they have put into the ministry will be ruin as soon as they turn their back either through death or retirement.#GFD