Leaders are pray-ers. But their prayers are not self-focused. A spiritual leader adopts the agenda of the Kingdom over their own. Sometimes (often, in fact) the two will come into conflict. At that point, a leader will kill his or her own self-defined agenda or sacrifice a Kingdom agenda to get what they want.
Nehemiah died to his own agenda. His agenda could have been something to hang on to… promotion, influence and face time with the King of the Babylonian empire. But God was whispering something else into his spirit… something only he could hear as God spoke. And when God speaks, He presses His message home with persistence. He would not give Nehemiah rest. He would not let Nehemiah easily off the hook.
So Nehemiah prayed. Four months of mourning, fasting and praying transpired between chapter 1 and chapter 2. Often we think God is leading us to a task that will require a cost. And then we forget about it. If we can forget, it was a good intention that motivated the impulse but not God. God doesn’t give up. God doesn’t accept our excuses. (Ask Moses!)
But Nehemiah’s understanding and high view of God (see 1:5-6) led him to an honest assessment of himself. When Nehemiah saw God for who He is, he saw himself for who he was. A sinner. Broken. Responsible. Guilty. Culpable. And when he accepted the responsibility for the state of his people, he confessed his sins… and his fathers… and his people. He admitted “we have acted very corruptly” (1:7); we have been unfaithful to the covenant (1:8); we are experiencing the promised results of our sin (1:8).
Confession is a necessary step in coming to grips with the extent of our sin and the cost of our fallenness. We pay a high price for our sins. And there are consequences that will be experienced as a result. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked… for whatever a man sows that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
Our confession must be made to the right person. Judas confessed his sins to a priest after he had betrayed Jesus in the garden and then he went out and hung himself. Peter also denied and betrayed Jesus but brought his sin to the only one who could fix it. And he was restored. Nehemiah knew that his sin was against God. God first. God most. And only the One sinned against could forgive and restore.
When Nehemiah arose from his prayer he did so as a new person. He was forgiven. He had a new role in life… a new plan… a new direction. Nehemiah was going to be used of God to build a wall that would protect God’s people from their enemies. He died to an earthly agenda and God gave him an eternal one… a kingdom plan… a lasting legacy.
A leader must first pray. Through that process of praying to know the heart and mind of the Father, we will receive a new agenda… God’s agenda… that will drive us forward.
What is God’s agenda for your life… your family… you business? What must die in you for that agenda to come to pass?
FOR MEMORIZATION: For though He was equal with God, (Jesus) did not consider equality with God something to be clung to, but made Himself nothing…. Philippians 2:5
FOR REFLECTION: How does your personal agenda conflict with what God is seeking to do through your life? Is there conflict between your ambition and God’s Kingdom?