Then I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves and come and guard the gates, to keep the Sabbath day holy.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood [personhood], to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ… Eph. 4:11-13
For all of Nehemiah’s vision and wisdom and administrative skills – his diplomacy and his anger – he never lost sight of his task. His job was to equip the people of God to do the work of ministry. No matter how gifted he was, no matter how successful things might be with him standing over them, that was not the goal. The goal was for the people of God, each one, to grow up – to become mature.
Sure, he poked and prodded. He rallied, he encouraged, he called sin “sin” and he wasn’t concerned about offending when offending was needed.
It’s hard to not feel discouraged when your mentor is so very capable. But Nehemiah used his gifts to foster their growth as a body – he did not flaunt them for personal benefit. He expected the people of God to become exactly who God intended them to be.
I think Nehemiah and Paul (and whoever wrote Hebrews) would have hit it off. Well, since they are all in heaven today, it would not surprise me if they have had some great times comparing notes. Paul understood the need for milk until the church was ready for solid food but he never stopped calling for maturity in Christ.
Here’s the takeaway:
Avoiding the pitfalls of personal notoriety, people pleasing and the preaching of pabulum, the work of a leader is to mentor the people of God on to maturity.*
…walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Col. 1:10)
*No, I did not try to get 7 ‘P” words. It just came out that way. 🙂