Original Research - Special Collection: Sustainable leadership in times of uncertainty

Nehemiah – Leader in times of crisis

Hans-Georg Wünch
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 44, No 1 | a2713 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v44i1.2713 | © 2023 Hans-Georg Wünch | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 August 2022 | Published: 10 August 2023

About the author(s)

Hans-Georg Wünch, Department of Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Times of crisis call for sustainable leadership. Often in Christian circles, (especially among Evangelicals), the biblical figure of Nehemiah is presented as a model of leadership from which one can learn directly how leadership can work today in our time and situation. This article has addressed the question of whether and how this is possible. In a first step, the author dealt with the hermeneutical question of how to derive teachings from biblical narratives and how to apply these teachings. In a second step, he examined a number of popular and scholarly articles and books dealing with Nehemiah and the topic of leadership. He critically examined three models and evaluated them on the basis of his hermeneutical considerations. It became clear that there are essentially three different approaches: 1. Many articles and books derive leadership principles more or less directly from the Book of Nehemiah. 2. Some authors first identify biblical principles, which they then illustrate with the person of Nehemiah. 3. One contribution is examined in which leadership principles based on sociological considerations are taken as a starting point, which are then concretised with Nehemiah. On the basis of the fundamental hermeneutical considerations, the author came to the conclusion that only models 2 and 3 are possible approaches to the question.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article moves between Old Testament and Leadership Studies. It is therefor by intention interdisciplinary. There are implications for the understanding of Old Testament narrative texts but also for Leadership Studies.


leadership; Nehemiah; crisis; hermeneutics; Old Testament.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education


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