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Ah, Nehemiah —what a character, and what a story! 

Imagine the resolve and courage of people holding your chisel in one hand and a sword in the other. You’ve got a task before you that seems insurmountable, but you’re armed with a resolve that’s as firm as the stone walls you’re rebuilding. This is no ordinary construction project; it’s a labor of hope, resilience, and faith.

Today, let’s dig deep into this historical account to unearth timeless gems about understanding authority.


Nehemiah was like a faithful gardener who knew exactly when and where to plant, which soil to till, and how to cultivate relationships that bear fruit.

“And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king.” Neh. 2:1.

Here’s a man who knows his lane. Nehemiah wasn’t just another cupbearer; he was a man on a mission, albeit one who didn’t yet fully understand the gravity of his future calling. He cultivated trust with King Artaxerxes, demonstrating responsibility and gaining favor.

“Then the king said to me, ‘What do you request?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven.” Neh. 2:4.

Nehemiah had earned the king’s trust to such an extent that he was granted both permission and resources to go rebuild Jerusalem. His mandate was clear, and his authority legitimate because he had understood and respected the chain of command.

Much like Nehemiah, who recognized his unique position and influence with King Artaxerxes, we, too need to recognize our own spheres of influence, whether it’s in the church, school boards, businesses, or NGOs. Each of us has a ‘king’ we can speak to, whether it’s a congregation, a community, or even an entire sector. We can all be bridge-builders, gaining trust, and understanding the plight of our people. Then, when the moment comes, we can be the ones to say, “Here is what we must do.”

“So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days.” Neh. 6:15

Companies that lose their original purpose and core business will eventually go bankrupt.  It has been proven many times over and over.  Nehemiah stuck to one job and finished it well.  


Nehemiah was not just a builder; he was a social architect, bridging the gap between despair and hope.

“So I said to them, ‘You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.’” Neh. 2:17.

Nehemiah motivated the people by acknowledging the problem, sharing a vision, and calling them to action. Like a shepherd guiding his flock to greener pastures, he led them toward renewed dignity.

“And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, ‘Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.'” Neh. 4:14.

His strategic resource management was astounding. He divided the work among families and tribes, thus turning a monumental task into manageable chunks. Through pragmatism and fairness, he even mitigated internal conflicts and wealth distribution issues.

To quote Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “Quand les pauvres n’auront plus rien à manger, ils mangeront les riches!” (When the poor have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich!)

South Africa is rich in resources but poor in equitable distribution and management. Nehemiah, a master of resource management, involved everyone in the rebuilding process, regardless of their social standing. As leaders, we must consider how we allocate resources, especially in a country riddled with inequality. Fairness and pragmatism can bring unity, productivity, and renewed dignity to our communities. 


Ah, opposition—the incessant rain that seeks to ruin the crop! But remember, even rain can nourish when managed well.

“For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, ‘Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.’ Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.” Neh. 6:9.

Nehemiah’s opposition came in many forms: mockery, threats, and even conspiracy. Yet, like a skilled captain who knows when to adjust his sails, he remained steadfast, focused on the mission. He had to confront his fears, make difficult decisions, and bear personal costs.

Nehemiah’s opposition was formidable, but he didn’t bow down. He remained steadfast. Likewise, the South African landscape is fraught with challenges—corruption, social deprivation, and immorality, to name a few. As leaders, we need the courage to stand up to this opposition and remain committed to our communities. 

I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?”  Neh. 6:3.

Let’s not underestimate the courage it takes to manage opposition. Courage, after all, isn’t the absence of fear but moving forward despite it.

And I said, “Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!” Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, Neh. 6:11. 

In Closing

Imagine, if you will, a mosaic—each tile uniquely shaped but vital to the entire picture. Each of us, in our various roles, can contribute to this beautiful tapestry of change, just like Nehemiah did.

For us in South Africa, let’s choose to be the Nehemias of our day. Let’s pick up our chisels and our swords and say, “The work is great and extensive, but we will rise and build” (Neh. 2:17, paraphrased). Then, maybe just then, our walls will rise again, and the gates of our communities will be lifted, no longer lying in ruins but standing tall, a testament to what can be accomplished when we understand the true essence of authority. 

Kingdom people are BUILDERS.  We are constantly building, and rebuilding society into a godly standard of right living.  We build by truth, not lies and deceit.  We build and accomplish, we finish and complete something of value for future generations to enjoy.  Instead of consuming, we build.  We sow and reap. We Work and Pray! We receive to give! We do not look behind us and remain stuck in regrets, criticism and contempt.  We build, heal and deliver people to glorify God!  

We build from His “rest” – with His Spirit, with His strength and under His command:

Psalm 127:1-3: “Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.”