By Danya M. Jordan
Mary Lou Retton, the 1984 Olympic Gold medalist and Christian, said “Each of us has a fire in our heart for something. It should be our goal in life to find it and hold on to it.”
What is your passion?
Webster’s Dictionary describes “passion” as:
- a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept;
- the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death.
Harriet Tubman, the courageous abolitionist, said, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
Any good leader has passion and fire in his/her belly for a cause. Nehemiah in the Old Testament is a leader who definitely had passion. I love learning from him. His name means “The Lord comforts.”
I normally am a pretty passionate person. When opposition and obstacles get in the way, how can we keep the passion burning in our hearts and minds?
Four Leadership Lessons of Nehemiah we can draw from on how he kept his passion are:
- Prayer, fasting, mourning
- Participation from others
- Protection from opposition—half to watch, half to work
- Prompting of revival
Nehemiah was the cupbearer in King Artaxerxes’ court. His position was one of high honor. Even with his title, he remained humble.
While Nehemiah was on duty, brother Hanani and several men came from Judah, and Nehemiah asked him some questions. I love that Nehemiah was so inquisitive. He was compassionate about his roots.
The Jews had not been back home to Jerusalem in close to 100 years. Their enemies made it virtually impossible to build Jerusalem back after King Nebuchadnezzer had broken the walls down in 586 BC.
The report Nehemiah received was that the survivors were in trouble.
“The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and it gates have been burned with fire.” –Nehemiah 1: 3b.
Nehemiah sat down and wept when he heard this news. Then he prayed fervently.
Nehemiah was humble. He mourned and fasted for days, then prayed fervently before the Lord. His prayer is one of the most humble, sincere prayers in the Old Testament.
Prayer is the first leadership lesson we learn from Nehemiah to maintain passion. Prayer is the cornerstone of passion and leadership. It’s truly the cornerstone for everything .
President Abraham Lincoln said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”
Nehemiah heard a vision from God. Nehemiah cast the vision to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and created passion among the Jewish people.
In Chapter 2 Nehemiah not only casts the vision to rebuild the wall, he humbly enlists participation from others.
They replied, “Let us start rebuilding. So they began this good work.” –Nehemiah 2: 18b.
I love how Chapter 3 of Nehemiah describes all the builders of the walls, including those who didn’t work hard, like in verse 5. One guy named Shallum in verse 12 is mentioned because he used the help of his daughters. Another guy Baruch is mentioned in verse 20 because he zealously repaired his section. He was passionate.
In Chapter 4 we see opposition and Nehemiah’s protection from that opposition. Nehemiah kept praying, stayed humble. “So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half of its height, for the people worked with all their heart.” 4:6.
Protection is the 3rd Leadership Lesson we learn from Nehemiah. “Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other.” Nehemiah 4: 17.
When we are in the middle of God’s will, we will experience opposition and spiritual warfare. The Lord protects us with wisdom and the Ephesians 6 armor of God. Helmet of Salvation. Breastplate of righteousness—integrity. Belt of Truth. Absolute Truth. Shoes of peace. Shield of faith. Sword of the Spirit. It all faces the front as we face our opposition.
Some of those opposing the rebuilding of the wall began wanting to meet with Nehemiah.
I LOVE how Nehemiah responded. It’s one of my favorite passages.
Nehemiah responded by saying, “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?’ Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.’” –Nehemiah 6:3-4
That is like us as leaders. No matter what the enemy throws at us, will not waiver from His Vision. Don’t let the enemy squelch our passion.
As God guides us and progress is made, the Holy Spirit will Prompt revival, as it did with Nehemiah. Prompting of Revival is the fourth leadership lesson we learn from Nehemiah to keep the passion fueled.
In Chapter 8, the book of Law is read from dawn till noon.
”…and all the people lifted their hands and responded, ‘Amen! Amen! Then they bowed down and worshiped.”—Nehemiah 8:6
One of my life verses comes next. A few verses later in Nehemiah 8:10 they are repenting so much, Nehemiah says, “This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
The day in Nehemiah was sacred to the Lord because His people repented from sin and turn back to Him. Today is also sacred to the Lord.
Is there anything we need to repent from? Let’s examine our hearts and make any necessary changes in us as He prepares us for our sacred day. The Holy Spirit will change our hearts, refueling our passion even more and prompting revival in countless hearts.
Let’s keep the fuels of passion burning in our hearts for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.
The good news is that that Jesus Christ is our ultimate Repairer of Broken Walls and Restorer.
“Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls; Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” –Isaiah 58:12
The same God for Nehemiah as the Repairer of Broken Walls is the same God who will continue to lead us passionately in our God-sized visions.