Do you know how to keep a secret? We’re looking at leadership principles which can be learned from Nehemiah because he was a very successful leader and motivator, as well as a very godly man. Indeed, we can learn much from him.
One of his secrets of success was that he knew how to keep a secret. After asking for and receiving permission from his boss, King Artaxerxes, to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls, he arrived there to do this seemingly impossible task. In Nehemiah 2:12 we read, “I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem.”
Why was it important for Nehemiah to keep his own confidence? If he had ridden into Jerusalem and started pronouncing to everyone his intention to rebuild the broken walls, they would have thought he was mad. Who did he think he was anyway? He realized that this had to be approached very wisely and carefully, and he had to show the people that it could be done. He needed a plan and he needed to take his time to do it right. Therefore, he kept his mouth shut until the appropriate time.
Proverbs 13:3 says, “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” Again, in Proverbs 21:23 we read, “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” Furthermore, Proverbs 11:13 says that “a trustworthy person keeps a secret.”
Speaking rashly always leads to regret. How many times have you wanted to cut your tongue out because you said something rashly—told something that you should have kept in confidence or said something that was not carefully thought-out? It is so true that guarding our mouths will keep us from calamity!
Years ago, I began to pray that God would help me to control my tongue. I have written many verses in my prayer journal that speak to the importance of guarding our words and keeping secrets. I highly recommend this practice, because another mark of a spiritually and emotionally mature person is one who knows when to keep her mouth closed and not tell all she knows.
Nehemiah could have destroyed any possibility of rebuilding that wall—doing what God had called him to do—if he had not controlled his tongue and kept his own confidence until the time was appropriate. We can benefit greatly by following his example.