Nehemiah As an Example of Male Leadership

My church is going to start a new men’s group. It’s proven to be a real challenge as we are a “freeway church”, that is, our membership is pretty well spread out. We’re not a community church where our membership generally lives nearby. My house is currently about 10 miles from the church, and if we sell and move into my in-laws’, I’ll be 20 miles out. Some people come from even farther. We’re also incredibly busy. Trying to find a date and time for a men’s group to meet has been difficult. I can’t do breakfast meetings because I get to work at 6:30 AM. We finally settled on Thursday afternoon, with our first meeting being today. We’ll see how it goes.

In preparation for our first meeting, I read the book of Nehemiah from the perspective of male leadership. For the past several weeks our pastors have been preaching from Nehemiah. Several things stood out to me during this read. For one thing, Nehemiah considered Jerusalem as a reproach with the walls down. Putting the walls back up would make the city no longer a reproach. I have to wonder if there is anything I can draw from that. Is a person, a family, a church, a group, a society, etc. a reproach with a broken wall, a lack of boundaries, or no form of defensive security and self-containment? Is there a broader application? I don’t like to over-spiritualize or allegorize parts of the Bible for which neither was intended, but in many cases there is a deeper message. I don’t have the answer now, but I do plan to study this.

One of my favorite songs for some reason is David Crosby’s “Hero”. I notice Nehemiah seems to be the embodiment of that David Crosby song "Hero" that I like so much: "He never wondered what was right or wrong. He just knew. He just knew." It occurred to me that Nehemiah was a man who must have spent a lot of time studying and thinking about who he was and who God was. To use the cultural parlance, Nehemiah had one of the most finely tuned BS detectors in the Bible. Nehemiah did not play around. When he found out that the people were being subjected to usury, he didn’t get on his knees and say “Oh, God, how should I handle this?” He went in swinging and kicking. He knew the right thing to do and he did it. I don’t believe that Nehemiah or anybody else can reach this point without spending a lot of time in study and application and of course prayer. Nehemiah knew who he was and he knew what was right and he did it.

Nehemiah also somehow had skills and experience in the following areas:

  • Civil engineering
  • Civic Administration
  • Business
  • Religious affairs
  • Defensive tactics

I know nothing of his background at this point, so I don’t know how he acquired these skills. He did somehow though. He was a brilliant engineer and administrator, as well as a tactician. Rebuilding a wall while handling defenses is not an easy task.

One thing that stood out to me about Nehemiah is that he got the job done and then left the scene. He got everybody else into shape and then left them to their work. He came back and had to straighten a few things out, but then he left again. Nehemiah could have been prideful and run everything, but I think an overlooked aspect of male leadership is training and disciplining successors. A man is an idiot if he runs everything, then either dies or retires and leaves behind a bunch of fools who don’t know what to do without him. No matter how brilliant or skilled you are, you need to make sure that your knowledge gets passed on because you won’t be here forever.

One of the greatest blessings of reading Nehemiah in one big chunk was the rediscovery for me of how exciting it can be to read larger passages of the Bible. I’ve gotten into a rut with my daily reading where I’ll read one chapter from each of 6 sections a day, and since this isn’t very exciting, I skip it most days. Reading Nehemiah all the way through at once helped me rediscover the excitement and fun of Bible study.

The men’s group is going to start by studying Steve Farrar’s book “Point Man”.

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