I'm a leader. As a result, I like reading books on leadership; I like reading about other leaders. The cool thing about leadership is that the Bible is full of good leaders. Leaders who sought the will of God. Leaders that I can pattern my own leadership life after.
Recently in my quiet time I came across a passage I wanted to share with you. In context, Nehemiah has been sent back to Jerusalem from exile in order to rebuild the city's walls. As you can imagine, Nehemiah experienced harsh opposition from other leaders and nations in the area who felt threatened by a newly empowered and strengthened Jerusalem. As the walls were nearing completion (after only 52 days I might add), we find this text:
When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies (Foreign leaders in the land of Canaan) that I (Nehemiah) had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it-- though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates-- Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: "Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono." But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: "I am carrying on a great project (some translations say "work") and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?" Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.
Nehemiah had been given a work to do. He was led by God to rebuild the walls to the city of Jerusalem. He had undertook this task with great ferver. He had led with zeal and resolve. He didn't allow celebrity or opposition stand in his way. As a last ditch effort, the leaders that were located in the land of Canaan invited Nehemiah to a meeting. A summit if you will. There could have been great political advantages to attending a meeting, perhaps they had door prizes and a wonderful conference notebook filled with logoed keychains and bottled water. Nehemiah isn't distracted. He knows that the leaders he would go to meet intended harm for him and for Jerusalem. He also realized that in the absence of his leadership, the work that God had called him to would falter and possibly fail.
So he remained focused on his calling. "I cannot come down."
As a Christian leader, this is a great reminder. The mission of The Church to which I have been called is to Know Christ and to Make Him Known. It is easy to get caught in controversy and quarrels and meetings and the junk of life. When I get the message, "Come, get involved in this..." or "Hey come get involved in what we are doing..." I hope that I have the resolve of Nehemiah to say, "I'm doing a great work of God here at FBC Hayden. I cannot be distracted from that work. I will not come down."