Most of the time, when we think about our life with God, we tend to think we should disappear from view. There are good reasons for this thought. John the Baptist modeled it in his desire to decrease as Jesus and His ministry increased (John 3:30). Jesus always wanted to make His Father known in the world (John 17:6).
Something a little different, however, happens at the end of the book of Nehemiah. There Nehemiah continually asks God to think about him. Here is a paragon of godly leadership who asks three times for God to “remember” him:
- “Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.” (Nehemiah 13:14)
- “Remember me for this also, my God, and show mercy to me according to Your great love.” (13:22)
- “Remember me with favor, my God.” (13:31)
We might begin to wonder if Nehemiah is a self-centered or selfless leader. It is good to consider this in an age obsessed with posturing for position. What is Nehemiah doing and what does it tell us about relating to God?
Nehemiah is recounting all of his efforts for the glory of God and is ending the book with a request from God – not from human beings – for enduring results, mercy, and favor. While many concern themselves with the legacy they will leave for people, Nehemiah is concerned with the legacy he will leave with God. There is not a clear dichotomy between the two, but Nehemiah’s attention is on God’s perception of his work and efforts.
Asking God to think about us and what we have done is right if we are straining for God’s will and glory in our lives and work. There is nothing wrong with recounting it all to God and asking Him to mercifully bless it. However, if our goal is for God to make us loom large before men and women in this world, we would do well to ask God not to remember but rather forget about us and that urge.