Nehemiah Builders II

Still thinking about the NBA reminded me of Pat Riley. Riley, Miami Heat President and Head Coach, sparked controversy when he recruited Lebron James this year. He is known to be determined and named as one of the 10 Greatest Coaches in NBA history. He too, like Nehemiah, combined faith with action.  "I went to Catholic school, went to church every day. Born out of that (Irish upbringing), too are good values. The value of doing right. It is very simple, it's cut and dried."  

Here are some other reasons why I think Nehemiah can give Pat a run for his money:

1. His prayers were 3G-enabled.
God was first in Nehemiah's heart. Before he actually did anything, he chose to seek God first. In 2:4-5, the King asked him what he wanted, and he prayed first before providing a response. He didn't need to be in the comfort of his quiet time place, of church or of a small group setting; he prayed at that very spot because he knew that God would always hear him.

2.  He was feisty. 
Not everyone believed he could make it. He was mocked, ridiculed and other times, intimidated. In modern times, I imagine businessmen in gray suits with armed bodyguards trying to halt the construction. But Nehemiah battled all of this to finish the task.

3. He gave pep talks to his team a la "Any Given Sunday".
When threats continued to surround him, he made sure that he would gather his team and ensured that everyone understood what they needed to do. He assigned specific tasks to specific people so that they were all on the same page -- be it building, protecting or defending.

4. He didn't avail of the manager's incentive plan.
Nehemiah was a governor and therefore privy to elegant dining, special treatment and royal privileges. He chose not to tax the people on this because he knew they were already burdened. He wined and dined with them out of his own pocket. Sometimes don't you wish our government was that understanding?

5. He wasn't a fan of Hoopshype.
Rumors were flying, but Nehemiah chose to respond to this point blank. The letter sent to him was unsealed with an obvious motive to spread gossip, but he quickly responded with the truth. He was being accused of starting a revolt, to which his response was, "You're just making it up in your head".

6. He recruited rockstars.
He knew that he needed the most capable men for the job, so he appointed people who shared his passion. He found the fear of God in his brother the most; he looked for integrity in his leaders. He also knew that the city had to thrive, and therefore needed the right blend of personalities with specific roles and responsibilities. They made the choice, not by blind luck or mere skill, but by God's providence.

7. He's got Cliffs Notes for his players.
They didn't just instruct; they gave meaning. They didn't just teach; they checked for understanding. He made sure that the people were moved, and true enough, the people were weeping, guilt-stricken to know that they had displeased God.

8. He looks at the championship ring at least once a day.

Before Lebron finally signed up with Miami,  Riley knew what his players wanted. He threw a bag of 21 championship rings in front of him and asked Lebron to try one on. In the same token, Nehemiah valued recognition and did not fail to celebrate their success, giving thanks and renewing a sense of purpose in the people's lives. When they seemed to lose hope, Nehemiah would be there for them. When they tired themselves out, Nehemiah always had a plan to motivate them and remind them of what they intend to achieve.

9. He was not a fan of bribery.
Tobiah, one of the officials and Nehemiah's foe in building the walls, had connections. He decided to make himself at home in a plush office in God's temple. He and the other temple guys were tight! He was rubbing elbows with these guys! Nehemiah didn't care. Because he knew Tobiah was not a priest or a Lucite, he was still kicked out despite his alliances.

10. He had heart.

Basketball legend Michael Jordan was known to have said that " Heart separates the good from the great". Nehemiah showed that even as a powerful leader, a governor in a city where others thought to be hopeless, he sparked the fire within and asked God for the match. He showed compassion, discipline and a sincere and true intent to motivate his people. He knew them by name, noted their achievements and trusted them completely --- as much as he trusted in the Lord who made Him.