As I write this, we are awaiting the birth of our first grandchild, a little girl named McCail Violet Maynard. Logan is due any time now and McCail’s Mamaw (aka my wife) is concerned with packing a bag for us to take to the hospital in case she decides to arrive in the middle of the night! I’ve been thinking about what is necessary and not necessary to pack for that particular journey.
We are all on a journey in life and some of us are on a leadership journey. What do we pack for that kind of journey to be successful? Let’s look at Nehemiah’s essential items for the leadership journey that he had embarked on.
First we find that Nehemiah had a quality of character that Oswald Chambers called “unconquerableness.” Yes, it’s a made up word. It will not survive autocorrect or spell check.
But it tells us volumes about a leader.
Any leadership challenge is going to involve obstacles. As we read through Nehemiah’s journal, we find over and over that he encountered difficult people, power structures, discouragement, people who kept looking at the rubble and a nearly impossible task to accomplish on an impossible timeline. Pressure within and pressure without confronted Nehemiah. Sometimes it took the form of external opposition and enemies determined to stop him. Sometimes the warfare was internal, as every leader understands.
But Nehemiah had “unconquerableness.” He did not let these issues discourage, dissuade or distract him. He saw the finished product. He knew God had called him to this. He knew God would be his strength and it kept him on his knees.
The first “unconquerable” obstacle was in the form of his boss, the King of Babylon, named Artaxerxes. While he and the king had a familiar and respectful relationship, he had to have his boss’ permission to move forward with this project. Complicating this was the fact that the project that God had placed in his heart was going to be subversive to the kingdom of Babylon. Years before the Babylonian king had issued an edict that said, “The walls of this city will never be rebuilt.” Jerusalem was seen as a rebellious, even a dangerous city. It was best to keep it vulnerable and uninhabitable.
But Nehemiah was sent to rebuild its walls. And so he prayed to God for mercy as he waited carefully for his opportunity to bring the subject up and speak to the king. He prayed for four months. (From Kislev to Nisan, over 100 days). And when the time came at the KING’S initiative (you do not walk into a king’s chamber and say, “I’ve got this great idea’) Nehemiah made his request know. And in a moment that only God Himself could orchestrate, the king gave his permission for Nehemiah not only to leave his post but supplied the project out of the kingdom’s treasury.
Amazing! But a leader must have “unconquerableness” for that to come to pass. If we move ahead of God, it may cost us… a job, a relationship, our life! If we move too slowly we miss the momentum and the divine moment that God has put in place.
We must not leave “unconquerableness” out of our leadership backpack. It is perhaps one of the most essential items we can carry!
FOR MEMORIZATION: O Lord, give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man. Nehemiah 1:11b
FOR REFLECTION: Are you “unconquerable?” Do you have that quality of character that won’t give up until the task is accomplished? Perhaps today you are facing an obstacle that challenges you… a difficult person; a tough conversation; taking on a task that is overwhelming? An “unconquerableness” of spirit is essential for those moments. Remember that “we are more than conquerors through him who loves us.” (Romans 8:37) Pray for God’s favor and move forward!