Leading through Restoration
Restoration is God’s business. He loves to restore, to redeem, to rebuild. He does it in our lives, in our businesses, and in our families. Is there something in your life that is crying out for restoration? Something that has been stolen from you? Maybe you don’t see yourself as a leader, but God does. You don’t have to have a job title to exercise leadership. You’re a leader of your life and your choices, and perhaps there’s something within your scope that can be done.
Nehemiah is an example of a great leader who partnered with God for restoration. He did have a job title of leadership, and describes his experience and his choices in a difficult season for us through the book of Nehemiah. He was a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, in the Babylon capital of Susa. Tbh, cupbearer sounds like kind of a lame excuse for a job, but in reality it was a highly trusted position for an official in those days. We see that Nehemiah has already learned a lot about leadership being in close quarters with the King.
When Nehemiah heard the news that the walls in Jerusalem were being destroyed, he was moved. His heart was soft, and we see throughout his story that his first instinct is always prayer. He waited on the Lord for opportunity, and when the time was right he shared his vision with the King and asked for his blessing to go to Jerusalem and lead the restoration. He saw that there was favour with the King, and he asked for even more. He asked God to increase what He was already blessing - that’s a great model for us today. What is God currently blessing in your life? Ask Him for more! When Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem, he takes his time. For 3 days he doesn’t even do anything! My guess, is that he was praying. He was waiting for opportunity, he was getting to know the local leaders, and he was getting close to God.
It takes maturity to wait when your heart is aching, to wait when you have a vision and see a need. It takes maturity to count the cost before you start to build. And that’s exactly what Nehemiah did, he first looked at the whole project and figured out what all the needs were.
The enemy always has something to say when it’s time for restoration. In Nehemiah’s story, the enemies Sanballat and Tobiah start to accuse. You’re too weak, you’ll never see full restoration, you’re too sinful to sustain it. Sound familiar? When the enemy tries to throw one of these at you, you’d do well to respond like Nehemiah.
Then I replied to them, The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.
I love this response because it covers all the bases! God’s job, my job, and the enemies boundaries. God will bring restoration, I will partner with Him, and the enemy has no claim over me. He’s a man of few words, Nehemiah, but they sure do pack a punch!
As the people start to repair the wall, Nehemiah organizes them so that everyone is working on the wall outside their home. He’s inspired them with the vision, he’s counted the cost, and now he’s encouraging each one to take responsibility for their portion. He equips everyone with a weapon, so everyone is invested in not only restoring but protecting what has been restored.
As the walls go up, they can see and celebrate what God is doing. He’s bringing life back to this city, He’s bringing a hope and future to the people who had only known captivity. But as this happens on the outside, some deeper issues are being exposed inside. That sometimes happens with us too - as God is restoring us, there’s room for some of the issues at the core of our hearts to come to the surface. For Israel, it was that in their fear of poverty they had broken the law by charging each other interest. This had steamrolled into a bigger issue of famine and loss of identity, creating division and resentment. Nehemiah confronts the root of it head on, rather than trying to fix the famine, he leads the people to repentance and there too they are renewed.
Safe now with the walls built up, the enemy tries again to take Nehemiah out. Remember how he told them they had no portion or right in Jerusalem? They knew this was true, so they are on the outside afraid to come in. The enemy sends a message, calling Nehemiah to come out. They attack his reputation and give him a really good excuse for why he should come face them outside the walls of protection. But Nehemiah recognizes the attack for what it is, and refuses to partner with fear. He chooses to stay within the boundaries God gave him.
Finally we see the celebration, the completion of work. Nehemiah as the leader then reaches out to a wider audience, he calls out to those who can join him in the newly restored city. He reminds them of their identity, and their right as Israelites. See, restoration isn’t just about what God will do for us, but what He wants to do for all. Once you’ve got it, give it away - that’s the upside down math of the Kingdom!
Nehemiah is a great example to us of leadership, of restoration, of victory. But he’s more than that too, he’s an example for us of who God is. Of how God leads us to restoration. Of how God functions in our lives as He leads us. His name, Nehemiah? It means “comforter”. And we have the great Comforter, the Holy Spirit, leading us to all restoration. How can you partner with the Comforter in your life for restoration?