The first chapter of Nehemiah closes with this simple statement from Nehemiah: "I was cupbearer to the king" (Nehemiah 1:11). The walls of Jerusalem had been reduced to rubble, but God did not call a construction worker or an engineer to rebuild them. He called a cupbearer.
When we consider the broken walls in our own lives, it may be tempting to think, What can I do? I'm only one person. We're only one family. I'm a small business owner or a full-time parent or a retired professional. I'm aware of what's going on around me, but what can I do? Just as He did with Nehemiah, God can raise up a leader from anywhere.
When God calls people to lead, He also calls them to serve.
Read Nehemiah 2. Nehemiah was a competent and capable leader because he was, first and foremost, a servant of God and of people. There were many reasons why Nehemiah might have chosen not to take the posture of a servant. After all, it was Nehemiah who had risked his position, his standing before the king, and even his life when he asked for permission to rebuild Jerusalem's walls. It was also Nehemiah who had been given authority to lead the project. He could have believed the lie that it was for him to give orders and for others to serve.
Nehemiah knew the Truth, though: When God calls people to lead, He also calls them to serve. So, as a servant of God, Nehemiah went before the king. When he came to Jerusalem, Nehemiah surveyed the damage to the walls. He wanted to see the challenge he was facing with his own eyes before speaking to God's people.
Finally, when it came time to reveal to the people what God had laid upon his heart, he said, "Let us start rebuilding" (Nehemiah 2:18, emphasis added). Nehemiah was inviting the people of Israel into the work God had given him. He was promising to join in the work himself, not merely as a supervisor. He was ready to get his hands dirty.
Just as our heavenly Father leads by joining with us in our work, God calls each one of us to lead as a servant who comes alongside others in the tasks He has placed before us. It does not matter if you have an official leadership position or not. Great leaders are the ones who are following closely after God.
Prayer: Lord, show me where You are calling me to serve, and give me the courage to get to work, as Nehemiah did. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem" (Nehemiah 2:17).