Nehemiah was a cup bearer to King Artaxerxes in Persia. Suddenly, a group of men from Judah, Nehemiah’s homeland, arrived and delivered some devastating news. Years before, the nation of Judah had been overrun by the kingdom of Babylon, carrying off a host of exiles, of which Nehemiah was one. Now there is bad news from those who remain.
In Nehemiah 1:3, the report states, “The remnant . . . is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” In the Ancient Near East, a city was protected by her walls. When a city had no walls and no gates, it was open to any and every would be enemy. This is a source of great shame for any citizen in such a situation.
A burden is something that is carried. It is something that can become wearisome. It is something that turns into a personal duty or responsibility.
Nehemiah’s response is profound and propels him to lead. v.4 shows the depth of what Nehemiah was feeling, “As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah felt deeply which caused him to lead courageously. He identified with the plight of his people and his city. He formed a plan, asked the king for permission to leave and for resources, traveled to Jerusalem, and rallied his country men to rebuild the wall against great opposition in an astonishing 52 days.
If leaders want to affect great change, they must lead with a burden.
It begins by personally identifying with the gravity of a situation.
The response is one of contrition and prayer, seeking the God who can truly change things.
A posture of being willing to be used of God to affect the needed change is essential.
It progresses to a plan that leads to definite action.
Walls are rebuilt. People are rebuilt. God is glorified.