Nehemiah had a respectable position personally serving the king in the very courts of power in the Persian Empire. He didn’t have to care about Jerusalem. But he did.
Jerusalem was destroyed. The exiles who returned now had to rebuild the city beginning with the Temple. We might compare this to rebuilding after 9/11 or any of the personal “Ground Zeroes” that tragically upend our lives.
(Sorry about the bit of silence at around the 38 minute mark. Not sure what happened there. If you keep listening, the sound comes back.)
Only occasionally do people rise above the level of their leaders. It happens now and then, to be sure, but not often. This is especially true in the area of personal character. Thus, lousy leaders produce pathetic people and together they share the unhappy effects of their common corruption. This was the problem in the days of Jeremiah and it was the cause of great calamity.
For the shepherds have become dull-hearted,
And have not sought the Lord;
Therefore they shall not prosper,
And all their flocks shall be scattered.”
– Jeremiah 10:21 (NKJV)
The remedy, of course, is that leaders must lead well. They must lead with integrity, always setting a good example, and tending to the deepest needs of the people entrusted to them. Simon Peter understood this and he offers the following counsel.
The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd* the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd** appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. – 1 Peter 5:1-4 (NKJV) ***
May all of us who in any way lead God’s people take the apostle’s advice and see the satisfying results multiplied in many hearts and lives.
For those who like to study words, I offer the following tidbits:
* Jesus used this verb form of shepherd when He said to Peter, “Feed My sheep,” in John 21:16
** The noun Shepherd is translated “pastor” in Ephesians 4:11.
*** This passage is one of two in the New Testament that bring the three terms shepherd (pastor), elder (presbyter) and overseer (bishop) together, placing them in the same context more or less as synonyms. The other passage to do so is in Acts 20; see verses 17 & 28.