Nehemiah is a great biblical character who exuded great leadership qualities during challenging times. There are great lessons we can use as a country and the corporate space. Nehemiah won against opposition, naysayers, conflict, and obstacles. Let’s analyse seven great lessons from Nehemiah.
If a leader is compassionate, it means they are considerate or concerned. Nehemiah was concerned about the broken walls and a broken system. When he heard of the situation, the Bible says he sat down, wept, mourned, fasted and prayed to God. (Nehemiah 1: 4). This was a leader who was concerned.
A leader does not relax when the situation is not good. He becomes part of the solution. Zimbabwe needs leaders that are concerned about its current state, growth, recovery and the future. Martin Luther King (Jr.) once said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” (Further reading: Nehemiah 2: 2).
A great leader communicates the picture of the future vividly. In a time of crisis, the leader stands on faith, hope and confidence. He motivates people to see beyond their current challenges. He builds in people a vision which is bigger than their selfish rewards. As though he was talking about the Zimbabwean situation, Nehemiah said, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” (Nehemiah 2: 17).
The situation might not be positive, but it is the role of the leader to motivate followers and team players. Nehemiah further says, “Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!’” (Nehemiah 4:14).
The leader communicates to the team or community. The glue that keeps people together is the leader. That is what Nehemiah did. That is applicable to Zimbabwe now. We need to speak with one voice and move with one purpose. Nehemiah saw that he could not rebuild the walls alone but he needed other people to bring in other skills. The Bible says, “…for the people had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4: 6). Every successful and effective leader communicates to the team. (Further reading on teamwork and talents – Nehemiah 3).
It’s said that if you are not ready to die for what you believe in, you are not yet ready to live for it. Nehemiah was facing great opposition, but he never lost faith, focus and fervour. He was convicted. People buy into a leader who is sold out to a vision. Nehemiah believed in the abilities of others and in the ability of the supernatural power. In one instance he said, “The God of heaven will help us succeed. We, his servants, will start rebuilding this wall. But you have no share, legal right, or historic claim in Jerusalem.” (Nehemiah 2: 20).
In rebuilding Zimbabwe, we need courage. Most people from different walks of life might have just given up. Forty-one (41) years of independence seems to have brought misery to many. It’s an open secret that most people think Zimbabwe is doomed to be like this. Rwanda went through an atrocious genocide, but if you see it now, you won’t believe that it was in trouble some decades ago.
Zimbabwe has experienced unprecedented pain, but the leaders need to give us courage. Like in the days of Nehemiah, the country has a lot of enemies. Firstly, we are our own enemies. Secondly, we have malcontents that do not want to see the progress of our country. We will always have enemies of success and such is life. (Further reading on enemies: Nehemiah 2: 10 and Nehemiah 2: 19).
Clarity of vision
As we rebuild Zimbabwe, we need a leader who is going to spearhead a clear vision. Firstly, the leader should appreciate and acknowledge the damage that has been done to the country. Nehemiah inspected Jerusalem to appreciate the magnitude of the damage and the cost. (Nehemiah 2: 11- 14). Secondly, the leader must spell a clear vision. The leaders should create a great, clear, compelling, colourful, and creative picture of the future.
If you know that you are called to lead, you progress in resilience. Every leader must be purpose-driven. We have many leaders that were consumed by their purpose and despite the challenges, they kept moving on. Such was Jeremiah. Jesus Christ knew that he had to face the cross, but he kept on moving. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream.
The leaders must learn to celebrate and be thankful. There are small daily victories that must be celebrated. Celebrate people that make the dream become a reality. Above all, we must be thankful to our God who helps us lead better in rebuilding Zimbabwe.
Jonah Nyoni is an author and speaker.