The Right Tools for the Job:

Nehemiah’s Example of Faith in Action

My Story with My Unique Influence

Scripture Connection

Nehemiah 1:1-11

I am not one to buy into gender stereotypes; in fact, they make me bristle. Yet, there is one stereotype that holds true in my house, and that’s the difference between how my husband and I hang a picture. I stand back and look at the wall, intuitively feel the picture’s perfect placement, use my arms to measure the picture’s width and find the center, mark it with a pencil, then hammer in a nail. Voila! Done. But, when my husband gets involved, it requires a fully stocked tool belt, a laser level, and a good part of the afternoon.

This laughable example is a good reminder that for every task, there will be more than one tool that might get the job done. In life and leadership, how can we be certain that the tools we use will lead us to the right actions and create lasting good?

In Nehemiah 1, we see the main character take immediate action. But it’s not the kind of action we might first imagine. When Nehemiah heard the news of Jerusalem’s broken walls, his first response was to mourn, fast, and pray (1:4).

Nehemiah not only knew God’s instructions but applied them in his daily life.

During his mourning, he confessed his own sin and the Israelite’s sin of not keeping their covenant promise with God (1:6-7). The Israelites of Nehemiah’s day were living in exile from their homeland in Jerusalem because their ancestors rejected God’s better ways and worshiped idols. While some of his contemporary Jews set aside Moses’ instructions to follow God’s commands, decrees, and regulations (1:7), Nehemiah had not forgotten. Yet, his urgency to get to work didn’t trump his conviction to first pray, humble himself, and repent.

We don’t know much about Nehemiah’s life before the story opens, but it seems he not only knew God’s instructions but applied them in his daily life. Because of his knowledge of Scripture and trust in God’s promises, he was prepared to go to work and inspire a city of beleaguered Jewish workers to tackle the project with him. Nehemiah confidently chose the right tools for the job.

Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death” (NLT). There are often multiple paths before us, along with the freedom to choose which one to take. There may even be multiple paths that seem “right.” Knowing and applying the instructions God reveals in Scripture is vital for choosing the path of right actions that leads to lasting good.

Even when we want to follow God, it’s easy to pick up the same tools that we would if we had set aside our faith. For example, when you’re offended or mistreated, are you tempted to vent your frustration with a passive aggressive post on social media? Or are you prone to punish your offender by ignoring them out of your life?

There have been seasons when I’ve had to lay down these temptations daily. It’s easy to choose these paths because they promise a sense of control and relief. You might even get your way. But God’s tools don’t look like the world’s tools. They are often countercultural and don’t always seem obvious. But, when we choose them, they open the door for God to do what only he can do.

As the people built the wall, they also had to fight off attackers. Sometimes we do, too. Instead of using the weapons of the world, I remember that I am not “fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies” but “against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, NLT). I’m not fighting people; I’m fighting our enemy, the devil. And I can only fight that battle with spiritual disciplines like prayer, worship, and fasting.

Whether building or battling, we can be like Nehemiah: We can confidently pick up spiritual tools that every one of us can use, in every circumstance.

I’m not fighting people; I’m fighting our enemy, the devil. And I can only fight that battle with spiritual disciplines like prayer, worship, and fasting.

When I think about the task before Nehemiah, his confident self-appointment to the job, and his ability to inspire workers in the face of great opposition to rebuild a massive wall in only fifty-two days, I am amazed. And I see that Nehemiah’s greatest tool was his confident trust in God that allowed Nehemiah to choose the right action for lasting good.

“O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you.”
Nehemiah 1:10-11, NLT

Whether we lead a team, our families, or simply ourselves, we can trust God to lead us. He will guide us to the right action when we root ourselves in him and knowing who he is, confidently believing his promises, and committing to pick up his spiritual tools before we use any physical ones.

Regularly exercising our spiritual muscles won’t seem like a practical use of our time. But, like Nehemiah, it’s the work we do in secret that makes us confidently ready when action is required. Whether measuring with your arms or using a laser level for the job, well, that’s your call.


What else do you see in Nehemiah’s actions that exhibit his great faith?

Are you using the right tools for the action God is asking you to take in your life?


When others see my life, I want them to see the same humility, leadership, and confidence that Nehemiah had.

Like Nehemiah, I will do the spiritual work in secret so that when action is required, I confidently choose the right tools for the job.


is a pastor at a multisite church in Central Indiana and has self-published three Bible studies. She is a devoted Christ-follower, wife, and mom of four.

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