A good leader will identify with those he’s leading, since he is by nature a servant. The analogy the Bible uses often is that of shepherd-sheep, where the shepherd works among his sheep, knowing them, caring for them, understanding each of their tendencies. Nehemiah could have arrived and pointed to letters from the King, or years of government experience, or anecdotes of past accomplishment, or the fact that he had soldiers that accompanied him as collateral in a discussion. Yet as he gathered the leaders and people, he appealed to them in a different way: “You see the trouble we are in…Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem.” This was not leading from far away or dictating by force (physical or personality). It was simply saying to the people that their leader would be there with them, that this would be a together project, that he was going to get his hands dirty as well. Isn’t this the glorious case of our Leader? Jesus is the head of the church, and when He calls husbands to lead, He says to look at His example (Eph. 5:25-26). When He calls us to endure suffering, or to live with a hard spouse, He calls us to follow how He endured (1 Peter 2:21-25). This is how Jesus has credibility to be our High Priest, our go between us and God, since He was tempted in every way, yet He was without sin (Heb. 4:15). A leader is willing to lead among, not above those that he cares for (see 1 Peter 5:1-5).
And finally, Nehemiah pointed out to his opponents and his people that God was sufficient motivation to accomplish what they set out to do. Even though he had done all the preparing and planning, as he led it was still a venture by God, for God, and through God. Nehemiah had a vision of leadership that was full and immersed in the greatness and glory of God. A vision that falls short of a goal of God’s greatness falls SHORT and is too small.