Nehemiah lived during the Jewish Exile (587-538BC). The Babylonians carried them away in captivity and plundered their city. This was a direct result of their disobedience to God. Nehemiah found favour with king Artaxerxes. In his capacity as cupbearer for king Artaxerxes of Persia, he was assigned a lot of authority and managed the king’s place.

The Nehemiah that we encounter in the biblical account was a godly man who feared God. He was humble, had a burden for the well-being of his people, was diligent in serving the king, was wise, diplomatic, encouraging, goal-driven, unmoved in his convictions, firm in his stance against their opponents and he had absolute faith in God. He was a visionary, who knew the Torah and who was able to win the favour of both his own people and king Artaxerxes.

He was willing to follow through on his convictions and took action to restore the fallen city of Jerusalem. He was ready to act when the right opportunity presented itself. He managed to gather the support of his fellow-Jews and motivated them for the work. He associated with their corporate guilt and interceded for them. It is rare to find a figure with such a good balance between pragmatism, unclouded vision, interpersonal and negotiation skills, prayer and dependence on God’s guidance. Many books have been written on Christian leadership, and many of them should be commended for their insight and wisdom. Our desire is not to repeat all those useful leadership principles in this course. We would rather look at the book of Nehemiah and focus on some of the prominent leadership qualities he displayed.

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain the structure of the book of Nehemiah and its historical context.
  • Critically compare different author’s views on biblical leadership and how it relates to Nehemiah.
  • Design a ‘Nehemiah leadership model’ for your context.
  • Prioritize the different spiritual aspects of Nehemiah’s leadership.
  • Examine valuable inter-personal communication skills in Nehemiah.
  • Describe principles from Nehemiah for communicating with secular, religious and hostile people.
  • Demonstrate why it is important for leaders to depend on God.

Course Outline

  • Unit 1: Introduction to the Book of Nehemiah and its Historical Context
  • Unit 2: Different Views on Nehemiah and Biblical Leadership
  • Unit 3: Contextualising a ‘Nehemiah Leadership Model’
  • Unit 4: Different Spiritual Aspects of Nehemiah’s Leadership
  • Unit 5: Inter-Personal Communication Skills in Nehemiah
  • Unit 6: Communicating with Secular, Religious and Hostile People
  • Unit 7: Leaders Who Depend on God

Required Reading

Ackroyd PR, Knoppers GN, Grabbe LL and Fulton DN 2009. Exile and Restoration Revisited: Essays on the Babylonian and Persian Periods in Memory of Peter R. Ackroyd. T & T Clark Library of Biblical Studies. London: T & T Clark International. 4349&site=ehost-live.
Adeyemo T (Gen. ed.) 2006. Africa Bible Commentary: A One-Volume Commentary Written by 70 African Scholars. Nairobi: WordAlive Publishers. Boers AP 2015. Servants and Fools: A Biblical Theology of Leadership. Nashville: Abingdon Press. 933&site=ehost-live.
Bolin TM 2012. Ezra, Nehemiah (Vol 11). The New Collegeville Bible Commentary. Old Testament. Collegeville: Liturgical Press.
Branson ML and Martínez JF 2011. Churches, Cultures and Leadership: A Practical Theology of Congregations and Ethnicities. Downers Grove: IVP Academic. e=ehost-live.
Dray S 2006. Nehemiah: An Applied Overview. Evangel 24 (3): 66–70.
Efrain A 2005. Servant Leadership: Jesus & Paul. St. Louis: Chalice Press-Christian Board. e=ehost-live.
Foday-Khabenje A 2016. Competencies for Leading in Diversity: A Case Study of National Evangelical Associations in Africa. Cumbria: Langham Monographs.
Grabbe LL 1998. Ezra-Nehemiah. In Old Testament Readings. London: Routledge.
Hyun KJ, Chemorion DC (eds.) 2016. The Quest for Gender Equity in Leadership: Biblical Teachings on Gender Equity and Illustrations of Transformation in Africa. Eugene: Wipf & Stock Publishers.
Ikenye NJB 2010. Modelling Servant-Leaders for Africa: Lessons from St. Paul. Eldoret: Zapf Chancery Publishers Africa. Ltd. 4&site=ehost-live.
Kalimi I 2012. New Perspectives on Ezra-Nehemiah: History and Historiography, Text, Literature, and Interpretation. Winina Lake: Eisenbrauns.
Maciariello j 2003. Lessons in Leadership and Management from Nehemiah. Theology Today 60 (3): 397.
Moss MA and Young A 2013. Next: Surviving a Leadership Transition. Nashville: Abingdon Press.
Ooi VKH 2015. Scripture and Its Readers: Readings of Israel’s Story in Nehemiah 9, Ezekiel 20, and Acts 7. Journal of Theological Interpretation Supplements. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns.
Packer JI 1995. A Passion for Faithfulness: Wisdom from the Book of Nehemiah. Wheaton: Crossway.
Redditt PL 2014. Ezra-Nehemiah. Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary. Macon: Smyth & Helwys Publishing.
Scorer T 2003. Biblical Leadership: From the Inside Out. Clergy Journal 79 (9): 8–10.
Walker JW 2014. Leader Shifts: Mastering Transitions in Leadership & Life. Nashville: Abingdon Press. e=ehost-live.
Woolfe L 2002. The Bible on Leadership: From Moses to Matthew-Management Lessons for Contemporary Leaders. New York: AMACOM.
Wright JL 2004. Rebuilding Identity: The Nehemiah-Memoir and Its Earliest Readers. Beihefte Zur Zeitschrift Für Die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft. Berlin: De Gruyter. e=ehost-live .