Nehemiah 6:16 – And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.
Curiously, the completion of the wall is mentioned in passing with little reflection on Nehemiah’s emotional feelings. Perhaps he remained focused on the task ahead, transitioning from things (stones, walls, gates) to people (new residents and converts). Leaders tend to quickly move from a success to the new opportunities and obstacles that come next.
Some of Nehemiah’s critics lost their courage once the wall was completed. The success of a leader is perhaps their best defense against character attacks and criticisms. By finishing his God-given mission, Nehemiah proved that God was with him.
Successful, Nehemiah remained humble – giving God all credit. Not all of Nehemiah’s critics, however, lost heart and moved on with their lives. Tobiah, who was probably Jewish, established himself as Nehemiah’s foremost enemy, at war through the rest of the book. A powerful public business leader, he even married the daughter of Meshullam, who had helped rebuild the wall, to gain favor with God’s people (3:4, 30). Making matters worse, Tobiah also apparently hired a PR firm to improve his public image.
The leadership principle in this chapter is that sometimes the people who should be the most for you are the most against you. If there’s nothing you can do to work with them, you have to ignore them and continue your mission, which is precisely what Nehemiah does.
Nehemiah was alone a lot and prayed a lot. How can you pray for others you know and how can they pray for you so that you don’t feel alone?