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The Learning Wall: A Biblical Perspective for Changing Organizational Structure

Updated: Apr 26

The Learning Wall is a platform created to inspire and empower people to reach their highest potential. We aim to build a community of motivated, passionate individuals ready to take on the world. We draw inspiration from an Old Testament figure, Nehemiah, who used his influence to sharpen the strengths and skills of others for meaningful work.

team helping to construct a wall
Each one doing their part

A significant influencer of the Old Testament built a wall, introducing a timeless approach to organizational development. Among the many takeaways of this biblical account of Nehemiah repairing a demolished wall around Jerusalem, we learn that transformational change in an organization must be rooted in permanence, not just in physical elements like a wall or structure, but in hearts and lives through what we learn together.

Things in Jerusalem needed to be fixed. The city's culture was full of negativity, and work processes were blocked by human agendas. Nehemiah acted on his compassion for God's city, a large part of which was in shambles, and for the tired and weary people there. As he surveyed the ruin, God instructed him to build a wall.

Nehemiah was motivated to achieve, proclaim God's sovereignty, affirm God's character, and work through relationships in a way that was pleasing to God. He designed a workflow that remains our teacher thousands of years later as we begin our strategic planning for change. God was building people within this project, and Nehemiah was God's choice to lead. Nehemiah engaged before he planned.

A Quality Influencer

In his time, Nehemiah faced a negative organizational model that many of us experience today. Yet he remained steadfast in leading his teams toward successful outcomes.

  • People were in his face saying hurtful things. He chose to ignore criticism and focus on each of his people, his burden bearers. He assessed their needs and gifts.

  • He removed anything in their way that blocked the work at hand.

  • He celebrated each of his people by name and upheld each contribution to the whole work, no matter how simple the task was.

  • He knew what each team member did and where they worked.

  • In his mind, this work was not about him. This work was about what God would do in this culture.

God intended change in this culture and this work to be finished. This is the attitude required to affirm work in all meaningful work environments.

Let's focus on five components Nehemiah counted on to reach the goals that led to building a great wall and the people of Jerusalem witnessing God's character.

1) Nehemiah's compassion for the need

Quality influencers inspire others to do meaningful work (Nehemiah1:1-4).

God showed Nehemiah that when He calls people to a work and invites others to join in the effort, they do because the need has become compelling and worthwhile (See also Exodus 18:7-12, 15-23 and Acts 6:1-8). Nehemiah's compassion and focus were forged through how he saw the city and what he saw in the lives of real people.

2) Nehemiah's prayer for God's provision

Recognizing our limits and relying on a limitless God to achieve a noble cause is inspiring (Nehemiah 1:5-10).

Nehemiah relied on his relationship with God. In Nehemiah 1, Nehemiah prayed a prayer that offers vital insight into building sound organizational development today. Through it, we witness his ultimate confidence in the character of God.

  • He begins by affirming God's nature and ends by reminding God of his promises.

  • From this prayer, he accurately assesses what led to the breakdown in Jerusalem's culture.

  • He views Jerusalem's problems through God's promises and personal vision of God's nature.

While he openly asked God for help, there was no "Nehemiah" in his desires. He could see beyond himself to the genuine needs of the culture he served. Nehemiah focused on the character of God, his obedience to Him, a desire for cultural healing, and a rebuilt wall.

And so did God. There was no separation between them in the desired outcome or in the design of the process. As long as Nehemiah stayed focused on their shared vision, he was aligned with the potential positive effect and his planning results.

3) Nehemiah Assembles His Resources

We attribute honor and instill value when we draw on the skills and talents we see in others (Nehemiah 2:1-8).

Who does Nehemiah approach? What does he ask for? What do we learn from looking at his requests? Nehemiah asks people for resources only they can give. He asks the King for permission, authority, and credibility. He asks the Governors for safe passage and the Keeper of the forests for raw materials. What do we do intentionally to inspire people to understand what only they can do?

4) Nehemiah's Process for Creating A Plan

Great influencers value the discovery process in strategic planning – assessing and researching to discover what's truly needed (Nehemiah 2:11-20).

After he arrived in Jerusalem, Nehemiah spent time simply being there. He obviously spent time listening to people as they offered their assessment of the need, concerns, and desires. We are sure that much of this was unpleasant – it was a difficult time for the nation. Nehemiah, however, was wise enough not to act on their understanding of the need alone. His careful, thorough inspection of the necessary work affirmed God's call and helped him create a plan for rebuilding the wall.

5) Nehemiah Implements The Plan Through Core Specialists and High Potential Team Development

The right team members performing the right tasks are essential to a plan's successful implementation (Nehemiah 3:1-32).

The roadmap to build this wall was strategic. As we read this text, we can sense the enormity of the work before Nehemiah and his teams. The occupations are diverse, and the tasks are enormous. Everyone had specialized skills and clear objectives. Each knew what to do and how to help the others.

Equipped to Face Meaningful Work

Nehemiah knew every function and name and celebrated each of his people's efforts and steps to achieve the quality of the vision. He documented their progress and kept all the human issues simple. Nehemiah inspired others to keep their focus on God. He diffused the negativity, recruited for and focused on specific and helpful development of competencies, and utilized assignments to increase their capacity. He valued their human skills, contributions, and their dependency upon God.

The dramatic and necessary changes you face in the future require one intentional step after another. If you don't build your competencies against a plan that flows from a great vision, keep things simple and move forward, your ideas and enthusiastic concepts alone will be irrelevant by the time you get them off the ground.

We want to help you courageously face and confidently engage in anything that might block or interfere with your work by deliberate and specific prayer. If you consistently navigate your work community by prayer and allow God's Word to guide you, adjusting as needed without a ripple in the organizational waters is possible.

The Learning Wall aims to better equip individuals, teams, and organizations for greater integrity and competence. Like Nehemiah, our collective of influencers want to help you choose to focus on the work through God's compassionate perspective.

Leaders are at a critical point in history. You must continue your meaningful work to build structures of permanence in compassionate outcomes. It is time to build an infrastructure beneath work to protect its outcomes and future, just as Nehemiah did—design as if permanence matters.

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