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leader pulling his hair out September 20 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Nehemiah 5:1- 7:3

Leadership Challenges - Do not be Dissuaded

It is not always easy being a parent, boss or ministry leader. Circumstances going against us can make us want to pull our hair out or quit sometimes. There are internal and external problems in leadership. How do we handle them? Today’s lesson may help us.

After the exile of the Jewish people in 538 B.C., many Jews were graciously allowed to return to their homeland under a decree by King Cyrus of Persia. Right away they built an altar to God and rejoiced at the laying of the foundation of the temple. After many threats against them the work stopped, but under the encouragement of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah the work began again and was completed under the reign of King Darius in 515 B.C.. The Jewish people were then almost wiped out under a decree of King Xerxes by his Persian nobleman, Haman; but God turned the tables on him through Queen Esther and saved his people. At the beginning of the reign of King Artaxerxes, the people tried to rebuild Jerusalem but were stopped, once again. Ezra the priest then led another delegation of Jews back to the land, and many spiritual reforms were made. Under King Artaxerxes in 444 B.C., Nehemiah led another delegation of people back to the land to Jerusalem to rebuild its walls, which were still charred rubble, leaving it unprotected and susceptable to attack.* Before the Jews came back to the land, many different tribes of neighboring nations occupied it in an area referred to as "Trans- Euphrates" or "that area beyond the river". Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arab tried to discourage the Jews in their work, but Nehemiah would not be dissuaded. He prayed continually that God would remember him as he tried to lead the people through difficulties.

While they were working on the wall, there were internal affairs among the Israelites that Nehemiah needed to settle. There were four difficulties: 1. there was a shortage of food because of a famine. 2. Some had grain, but for others to get it they had to mortgage their fields, vineyards, and houses. 3. To pay taxes to King Artaxerxes, some borrowed money from their fellow Israelites at exorbitant interest rates. 4. To pay their creditors, some even sold their own children into slavery.

Nehemiah’s first response was anger. He was not just angry because he had to deal with the problem when he was in the midst of an important project, though that would make many people angry; he was angry at the injustice done. To ignore the problem would have discouraged the people, and the work might even have ceased. People need to know that their leadership cares more about them than their projects. Leaders must take time to care. Do we?

What did Nehemiah do? Did he react immediately? No, he was wise and took a short time to pray and consider a wise course of action. Then Nehemiah confronted them: “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn't you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?” (Nehemiah 5:9, NIV). He rebuked the Jewish brothers for making merchandise of the financially challenged ones among them. Nehemiah encouraged them to follow his example - have compassion and lend to your Jewish brothers without charging interest. Then he made them give back what they had taken in pledge for earnest. He made them vow never to do that again. The Israelites were struck to the heart of their conscience and agreed.

Nehemiah was a leader, a governor of high integrity. He shared his meals, never using his position for personal profits, and he was open, accountable and completely blameless in his dealings. Nehemiah was greatly respected by the people. How are we doing in this area?

When Nehemiah returned to the work of building the wall with his Jewish brothers, external pressures returned. Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem schemed to harm Nehemiah. If they could get him away from the work for a “conference” they could kill him and the work would stop. They sent four letters of invitation, but Nehemiah refused to go. Finally, they sent him a smear letter, accusing him of rebuilding the wall with the intent of making himself king and revolting against Artaxerxes. Nehemiah sent them this reply:

“Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.” They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I [Nehemiah] prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” (Nehemiah 6:8-9, NIV).

And so, because of Nehemiah’s commitment to the work, his industriousness, his refusal to be dissuaded, and the help and protection of Almighty God, the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem was completed in just fifty-two days. Nehemiah gave this testimony: “When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God,” (Nehemiah 6:16, NIV).

Now that the work was completed, Nehemiah appointed the gatekeepers, singers, Levites and other leadership before he returned to the king. Nehemiah’s work for the time being was complete, and he left Jerusalem in whom he thought were capable hands. Then there was a time of celebration and singing. We will look at many of the Psalms that may have been sung in our next lesson. When our work is completed, we should also leave it in capable hands and rejoice in what God has done.

Lessons to live by:

  • Do not be dissuaded in your leadership when you are doing God’s will. Pray to him when you are distressed by opposition. Do you know the LORD who can save you and help you in your opposition? (more...)
  • People need to know that their leadership cares more about them than what they can do. Furthermore, leaders must take time to handle internal affairs within their families or organizations with care and diligence. This brings encouragement and will keep leaders from being dissuaded from their tasks.
  • To glorify the LORD, lead with the utmost integrity and diligence.
  • Good leaders set up wise administrators if they must be absent for a time so that their good work will continue unabated.

*Dates from the Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.654

Today’s Bible memory verses:

Proverbs 12:24 “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor,” (NIV)

1Corinthian 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God,” (NIV)

praying girl Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

Please send your comments to mtbiblestudies@gmail.com

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