Good leaders assess risks. And not just the risks to their organizations’ reputation and financial health, but the personal risks that come with being out in front.
Nehemiah was informed by a man named Shemaiah that the wall-building project had aroused such hostility that there were death threats against him. Shemaiah counseled him to run to the temple and hide there, begging for mercy from the very altar steps. Nehemiah refused to wilt. “I said, ‘Should a man like me run away? Or should someone like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!’” (Nehemiah 6:11). It wasn’t that he was being reckless, carelessly throwing his life away. It’s that he refused to be intimidated. He kept praying and kept working.
Nehemiah had his workers keep their swords with them as they troweled mortar. He also organized armed patrols to watch for saboteurs and raiders. Because of his courage, the little band of Jews got their project done in an astonishing 52 days. What a boost for the morale of the city! What an ongoing source of pride as each family gazed on its stretch of completed wall. Even more—what a faith recharger! God had come through for them and rewarded their courage: “When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:16).