In Nehemiah chapter 2, we see Nehemiah’s heart for service, and how that caused him to act in regards to three primary relationships that he had.
First, he had a heart for serving God, above all else.
We saw this throughout chapter one, where the first thing that he did when he had a problem and burden was that he took them to the Lord to seek him; and in seeking the Lord, he went back to serving the king. Now in the second chapter, when the king begins to talk to him about this, we see his heart for the Lord again: the first thing that he does is talk to God, before answering the king: "Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven." (Nehemiah 2:4)
This is where we see, secondly, his heart for his authority – the king. You see, his heart for serving God had lead him to continue being faithful to those currently in authority in his life. He already had a burden for Jerusalem. He could have rationalized neglecting or forsaking his responsibilities to the king in a number of ways. After all – God was obviously calling him to do something else. He could have begun to question the king’s authority over him – after all the Babylonian captivity was “technically” over – what right did the king have to keep him, a Jew, as a servant?
But instead, Nehemiah kept on diligently serving, because he had a servant’s heart that put the Lord and others first. This servant’s heart caused the king to care for him and to support him and allowed the Lord to work in the situation to the point that the king sent Nehemiah and gave him access to the materials needed to do the job! “…And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me." (Nehemiah 2:8b)
Finally, we get a glimpse of Nehemiah’s heart in relation to the people that he was called to serve. In verses eleven and twelve, it says, "So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days. (12) And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon."
He didn’t enter Jerusalem as the new leader with great fanfare and notoriety, but quietly, with humility. He knew what God called had called him to do, and he was satisfied to serve the people and work with them to rebuild the wall. There was no great show when he came to Jerusalem – just him and a few men; and he didn’t tell anyone what he was doing until the timing was right. His heart was to serve God and others, and to do the job that he was called to do.
If we hope to see God’s power in our lives, we should follow the example of men like Nehemiah. Nehemiah saw God remove obstacle and provide for him in mighty ways, as he sought God first, stayed faithful to authority, and served others with humility.