Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity:
5 And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders.
6 So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.
Vision internalized becomes a duty. Vision externalized becomes commitment and dedication to a task. Vision shared becomes a rallying cry for community. Nehemiah’s initial mission was to repair the wall of Jerusalem. Nehemiah felt a duty to do so, and he became an example of commitment and dedication to the mission God called him to accomplish. When he shared it with God’s people it became a rallying cry for community.
John D. Rockefeller said, “I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” Because of the enormous nature of Nehemiah’s task, persevering would require him to share the vision and manage and overcome the opposition. Nehemiah surely knew he couldn’t do it all alone because he enlisted the help of many others, sharing his vision with them to complete the work.
Nehemiah made sure each task was manageable and that the right person was assigned to the right task. The repetition of two phrases in chapter three showed how the work was divided and everyone did their part. The phrase, “next unto him” occurs 15 times, and after verse 16 another phrase, “after him,” is repeated regularly, 16 times.
When the time was right, Nehemiah revealed his plan to all of the people and the work on the walls and gates began. He divided the rebuilding among 42 work parties acting simultaneously each responsible for their own section of the wall near their own houses. When Nehemiah assigned work to the teams, he gave responsibility and authority to leaders to carry out specific tasks, but these weren’t professional wall-builders! They were priests, perfumemakers, women, goldsmiths, and merchants. Nehemiah encouraged people to tap into skills they didn’t yet know they had in order to get the mission accomplished.
If you are a leader with a vision that is too big to accomplish on your own, you already know that you are going to have to find a team to work with you. Effective teams work because members sense that each person belongs, that they share a common goal and have a purpose for functioning. Nehemiah’s teams shared the common goal of rebuilding and the work got done in just 52 days! Imagine how long that would have taken Nehemiah on his own.
To accomplish your mission you must learn to effectually deal with opposition. A leader must learn how to handle conflict. When Nehemiah began rebuilding the wall, he encountered some opposition, but he didn’t allow it to stop him. Rarely does a leader experience one hundred percent support in his endeavor. However, a great leader knows how to protect the vision from destructive opposition. He derives his strength and confidence from God and stays the course. For Nehemiah, like the rest of us, there will be no triumph without trouble. To enjoy victory will require vigilance.
Nehemiah faced opposition from without. In chapter four Sanballat and Tobiah mocked them. Nehemiah responded to the taunting and mocking with prayer not retaliation. He kept praying and he kept building. Nehemiah left it up to God to deal with the dissenters (Nehemiah 4:4-6).
When the taunts and distain failed, the opposition became more menacing. Threats of force and calculated plots designed to instill fear followed. In chapter six Nehemiah was repeatedly enticed to leave the work and meet with his foes. They wanted to kill him, but he refused to go. After that stunt failed, threats on his life and false prophecies tried to get Nehemiah to abandon the work and hide out in the temple. Again Nehemiah refused. He also received letters from Tobiah that tempted him with fear, but he never succumbed. Nehemiah simply kept on praying and working, but he added watching to the prayer (4:9) and warring to the work (4:17).
The opposition from without continued to escalate. The craftiness of the opposition involved intentional deception. We are warned in Ephesians 4:14 to: “be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”
The craftiness involved treachery. Sanballat accused Nehemiah of treason and threatened to accuse him to the king, Nehemiah knew he was lying and trying to instill fear that would stop the work. However, Nehemiah never allowed the work on the wall to cease. He recognized the attempts to bring fear upon them, and he opposed it at every turn.
When their enemies made plans to infiltrate the city, Nehemiah responded by setting the people after their families with their weapons and told them to “Be not ye afraid of them:  remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and  fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”
Nehemiah turned back the fear by reminding them to remember the Lord and His awesome might. There is no antidote to fear like a vivid God consciousness. Nehemiah also reminded them what was at stake challenging them to fight for their families. So they armed themselves and were ready to fight at any moment. Nothing was to deter them from continuing to build, however. Remember the weapons of our warfare are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds
Nehemiah also faced opposition from within. Some of the nobles took advantage of their positions and refused to work. Nehemiah 3:5 said that although the Tekoites repaired, “their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord.”
They had to overcome greed. In Nehemiah five the wealthier Israelites oppressed the poorer ones. But when Nehemiah heard about it, he rebuked them and demanded they stop charging usury, interest. Nehemiah saw the oppression of his people and stood up for them. He called a meeting to deal with the problem as soon as he became aware of it; he didn’t let problems fester. First Nehemiah challenged the offenders by prompt, drastic action. Second he appealed to them by his own example. Third those in the wrong admitted their error and made restitution.
By Wayne Clapp