Nehemiah 3 has a long list of the people and families that answered Nehemiah’s call to help fix the wall. There was plenty of work to do, and it was going to require the entire remnant to accomplish the task at hand. Nehemiah 3 is all about work – how individuals pitched in and did the work together, coordinated and led by Nehemiah. He moves from strategic planner to workforce leader. Eliashib the high priest is the first one mentioned. He acted as a godly leader should; he was out in front of the work, leading by example. He did not act as if he was too “spiritual” for the hard work of rebuilding the walls.
The people of the city of Tekoa were more than willing to work – but their nobles did not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord. “Their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord”. For the most part, people joined in – but not everybody. These nobles from the city of Tekoa thought they were above the hard work, so they didn’t join in. Maybe they thought they had a better plan, maybe they didn’t like how Nehemiah was doing it. Whatever their reason, you can be sure they later regretted it, because they stand in history as the only people mentioned in this chapter who did not join in the work. They are called out as failing to submit to the Lord and Nehemiah’s leadership.
These were men of different professions, not professional builders. They were not trained for this kind of work. It would have seemed they had an easy excuse to not do anything, but they jumped in and did the work. They fortified Jerusalem, even though many would not think them qualified or able. Nehemiah had them work where they were most interested – “opposite his house”. The key to Nehemiah’s successful leadership was creating a plan where everyone had a vested interest in getting their part of the work done.
So does this work stuff really matter? The most important ability in the work of the LORD is availability. The one with few gifts and little talent, who has a passion and a drive to see God’s work done, will accomplish far more than a gifted and talented person who doesn’t have they passion and drive to do the LORD’s work. Leadership happens when people show up. Nehemiah did, and he convinced a whole city to show up too. That is how God works – through people that show up and will walk in obedience with Him.