“Sustaining Leadership Practices for Church Growth in Cambodia” / Part 8 /

III. A study of church management and leadership insights from rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2&3)

1. Introduction

Chapter 2 of this graduation thesis is intended to infer the study of management and leadership style from the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall. On the one hand, with references to Chapter 2&3 from the book of Nehemiah, four insights of leadership and management were drawn namely, planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. On top of that, there are many management and leadership concepts will be included in the chapter such as thinking, planning, prioritize, empowerment, motivation, mission-driven, communication skills, cultivate a sense of belonging and passion…etc. On the other hand, some more leadership and management techniques will be elaborated in order to sustain leadership concepts for the mission of church growth. At last but not least, the good morality of Nehemiah and what makes him successfully reconstruct the wall are also discussed in this leadership and management skills. Can his ways of leadership help to solve problems and can the approach of his management style still applicable to the present world such as churches in Cambodia?

2.       2. Background of rebuilding the wall
The wall may serve as a barrier or blessing.[1] If the wall is broken down, then there is no barrier. The idea of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem happened during the era of the Persian Empire in the mid-fifth century[2]. The record has told that prophet Nehemiah was the cup bearer of the king during that time[3]. A cup bearer must be regarded as a trustworthy person because he must guard the poison in the king's cup. As cup bearer is a confidant in the royal entourage, he can exercise influence on a king's policies.[4] Therefore, it can be said that Nehemiah was a high government official and had won the trust of the King. This is the reason why the king noticed his sadness, he cared and asked for the reason.

In chapter one, it was just very sad news to Nehemiah that the Jerusalem wall was destroyed and the surrounding gates were burned out with fire by Israel’s enemies as well (1:3). Nehemiah sat down, felt so depressed, and cried, and mourned for many days when he heard all of those bad information. Nehemiah was fasting and speaking before the God of heaven by seeking His help and guidance (1:4). God showed him His way, that’s why he did not take any action immediately, instead Nehemiah just prayed, fasted and meditated. According to the Jewish calendar, the year begins in mid-March; therefore, from mid-March to mid-July it was taken about four months that Nehemiah decided to meet the king strategically.[5] Hence, the king noticed the unusual emotional expression on Nehemiah’s face and he asked, “Why is your face sad since you are not sick? but so sad of heart. Nehemiah became dreadfully scary and said to the king about his sadness that the city, the place of his father’s grave, lays waste, and its wall and gates were destroyed.[7] Nehemiah asked the king to send him to Judah, to the city of Jerusalem, that he may rebuild it. The king allowed him to go but in the case to rebuild the wall successfully, Nehemiah had asked strong support from the king.

Therefore, while he shared his concern to the king; first Nehemiah sought the authorization from the king by asking letters to be given to him for the governors of regions that they must permit him to across through till he arrives Judah (2:7); this is how he got the diplomatic support. At the same time, Nehemiah also asked the other letter from the king in order to receive the building materials from the local governor (2:8). When he reached the city, Nehemiah outing around the construction sides for three days and nights in order to observe and analyze the situation. He spoke, And I've gone by night time on the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and the gates which were burned by fire…. And some officials do not know where I will be gone or what I have done… The bible also tells us that Nehemiah didn’t share his plan with the other leaders unless he maps out his work clearly. There were a different group of people; namely the priest, government officers, nobles, and the Israelite, which later on Nehemiah suggested and led them all to join in building the wall. Somehow, the foe from Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem were opposite and opponent to Nehemiah’s mission (2:17-20).

The processing of the building and the job roles of a different group of people were written down in chapter 3. The groups and people who participated in the works are: the high priest and the priests (3:1-2), the men of Jericho  people from different geographical locations like Jericho, people from different professions and trade such as goldsmiths (3:8 & 31), perfumes (3:8), high ranking officials (3:9, 12, 14-17), Levites (3:22), temple servants (3:26), merchants (3:32), and even women (3:12). The scope of the work and responsibility of different parties were also clearly recorded and defined.  Nehemiah knew the people involved in the project by name and he also praised those who were hard working like Baruch who worked zealously (3:20), Mere moth (3:4 & 21) and men of Tekoa (3:5 & 27) who went to work somewhere else after finishing their part and also those parties who worked for multiple sections. On the other hands, those who did not work for the project was also recorded like the nobles of Tekoa (3:5). Why did the nobles of Tekoa refuse to work? Since they were not listed among those who immigrated with Nehemiah, they were probably long-term residents, who were perhaps jealous of the newcomers.[9] Another possibility is that these nobles may have felt threatened by Geshem the Arab (2:19). With the support of different teams, the wall was rebuilt successfully and completed in 52 days (6:15).

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