Nehemiah, Social Entrepreneur

Nehemiah – from the biblical book of the same name – used the skills and methods of a social entrepreneur to get that wall built and Jerusalem back on track.

I preached on this topic at the 2011 Michigan Men’s Weekend.

Definitions of Social Entrepreneurship:

  • Muhammad Yunus says: “Social Entrepreneurship relates to a person. It describes an initiative of social consequences for a social purpose. This initiative may be a non-economic initiative, a charity initiative, or a business initiative with or without personal profit. Some social entrepreneurs house their projects within traditional nongovernmental organizations while others are involved in for-profit activities.”
  • Ashoka says: “Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change.”
  • Rudy says a social entrepreneur uses business skills and community-building methods to make a social impact by achieving a specific goal.

So let’s consider Nehemiah.

Social Impact: The wall around the city of Jerusalem lies in ruins. Rebuilding the wall will remove the disgrace of the Jewish people.  (Neh. 2:17)


  1. Nehemiah identified the need (Neh. 1:3)
  2. Nehemiah affirmed a vision (Neh. 2:4-5)
  3. Nehemiah sought partners (Neh. 2:16-18)
  4. Nehemiah approached regulators and funders for support (Neh. 2:1-9)
  5. Nehemiah secured resources (timber for the walls and buildings) (Neh. 2:8)
  6. Nehemiah won the support of the authorities/officials (the King) (Neh. 2:6)
  7. More resources (escort, security, legitimacy from army and cavalry) (Neh. 2:9)
  8. Developed a plan with a timetable (Neh. 2:6)
  9. “Exegeted the community,” i.e., made a personal assessment of the need (Neh. 2:12-15)
  10. Gathered community leaders, won community buy-in and secured project partners (Neh. 2:16-18)
  11. Project management: Divided up the work among partners (Neh. 3, all)
  12. Project management: Addressed external threats (enemies) (Neh. 4, all)
  13. Project management: Addressed internal challenges (usury) (Neh. 5, all)
  14. Was brave and courageous when faced with a threat to his person (Neh. 6:10-13)
  15. Completed the project in 52 days (Neh. 6:15)
  16. Addressed sustainability of the wall by addressing root causes: The root cause was the disobedience of the Israelites and their failure to follow the Law of Moses (Neh. 1:5-11)
  17. Held a public reading of the new (old) contract (Neh. 8, all)
  18. Secured a public agreement from the people to follow the contract (Neh. 9-10, both, all)
  19. Set up leadership to follow through on the new agreement (Neh. 7:2; ch.s 11-12)
  20. Returned to his previous work, leaving the indigenous leadership in charge (Neh. 13:6)
  21. Came back to Jerusalem to assess the progress of the “root causes” section of the overall project (Neh. 13:6-7)
  22. Got the project “back on track” by addressing sustainability (Neh. 13, all)
  23. Back on track: throws out Tobiah from the Temple (Neh. 13:7-9)
  24. Back on track: gets the tithe to the Levites (paying the priests/clergy) (Neh. 13:10-13)
  25. Back on track: reboot on honoring the Sabbath (Neh. 13: 15-22)
  26. Back on track: dealing with intermarriage (Neh. 13: 23-28)

The entire book reads like a report on a grant. But the report is not to some foundation, nor the King, but to God.