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The Leadership of Nehemiah Part 5: Understanding Followers/Constituents and their Needs

In 458 B. C., the Persian King Artaxerxes authorized Ezra to lead some 1,500 Jewish exiles back to Palestine from Babylon.  The group encountered numerous problems in rebuilding and improving Jerusalem, and the city’s wall was in particular disrepair.  When word of this situation reached Nehemiah in Susa in 445 B. C., he appealed to Artaxerxes to appoint him as temporary governor and allow him to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall.  The story of Nehemiah is a strong testament to obedience to God and faith in action.

Nehemiah is also an excellent example of a good leader.  Numerous theorists have sought to identify the skills and capabilities that make effective leadership possible.  One respected list of such attributes derived by John Gardner is:

Physical vitality and stamina

Intelligence and judgment in action

Willingness (eagerness) to accept responsibilities

Task competence

Understanding followers/constituents and their needs

Skill in dealing with people

Need to achieve

Capacity to motivate

Courage, resolution, and steadiness

Capacity to win and hold trust

Capacity to manage, decide, and set priorities

Confidence

Ascendance, dominance, and assertiveness

Adaptability and flexibility of approach (John Gardner, On Leadership, 48-53).

What follows is a series of articles that highlight Nehemiah’s demonstration of each of the attributes on Gardner’s list.  The articles do not retell the story of Nehemiah and are recommended either for a reader already familiar with the basic narrative or as a supplement to a study of the book.  This fifth article illustrates Nehemiah’s understanding of followers/constituents and their needs.

The traditional yardstick for interacting with others is the Golden Rule’s admonition to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves.  Marshall Goldsmith notes that a better standard might be to treat others as they would like to be treated.  His logic is that we all have different levels of tolerance for life’s inconsistencies, annoyances, and difficulties.  If it is within our ability to absorb some circumstance, we sometimes have a hard time understanding why other people can’t also just suck it up and deal with it.  Real understanding of others requires us to see things not from our point of view but from the other person’s.  Leaders must remember that they are leading other people; not themselves (Marshall Goldsmith, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, 207-208).

People’s basic needs can be met by transactional leadership, but to lead their followers to excellence, leaders must understand what truly matters to and self-actualizes people.  The old adage that “what gets rewarded gets done,” will only take subordinates so far.  James Kouzes and Barry Posner note that to achieve their highest level of performance, people have to be intrinsically motivated based on what they personally care about.  In such cases, the leader must realize that “what is rewarding gets done” (James Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge, 170).  The leader must understand what intrinsically motivates his followers in order to provide them opportunities to act on what matters to them.

When the wall was more than halfway rebuilt, Nehemiah becomes aware of a series of complaints some of the workers have.  In Nehemiah 5: 2 some tell him that “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.”  In Nehemiah 5: 3, others say, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.”  In Nehemiah 5: 4-5, others report having to “borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards” and having to “subject our sons and daughters to slavery.”

Nehemiah learned that these sufferings were being caused by nobles and officials charging the people usury.  He called the offenders together in a large meeting and admonished them.  He demanded that they give back the property and usury they had taken.  The offenders agreed and in Nehemiah 5:12 promised to take no more.

Nehemiah not only compelled others to be sensitive to the people’s needs, he set the example by his own actions.  Governors before Nehemiah had placed heavy taxes on the people, but Nehemiah did not.  Even though Nehemiah was responsible for feeding over 150 people, in Nehemiah 5: 18 he reports that “I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people.”  Nehemiah had great empathy for the situations of his followers and showed sincere consideration of their needs.

Servant leadership is a leadership approach in which the leader meets the subordinate’s legitimate needs—which might include such concerns as training, encouragement, resources, or help with personal issues—in order to allow the subordinate to better focus on and accomplish the organizational mission (James Hunter, The Servant, 125).  Obviously the workers could not focus on rebuilding the wall when their legitimate needs of food, shelter, and the security of their children were not being met.  While the traditional authoritarian leader asks, “What can the organization do for me?,” the servant leader asks, “What can I do for the organization?”   Nehemiah demonstrated such servant leadership in his excellent example of Gardner’s demand for understanding followers/constituents and their needs as a leader.

 

 

The Leadership of Nehemiah Part 4: Task Competence

In 458 B. C., the Persian King Artaxerxes authorized Ezra to lead some 1,500 Jewish exiles back to Palestine from Babylon.  The group encountered numerous problems in rebuilding and improving Jerusalem, and the city’s wall was in particular disrepair.  When word of this situation reached Nehemiah in Susa in 445 B. C., he appealed to Artaxerxes to appoint him as temporary governor and allow him to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall.  The story of Nehemiah is a strong testament to obedience to God and faith in action.

Nehemiah is also an excellent example of a good leader.  Numerous theorists have sought to identify the skills and capabilities that make effective leadership possible.  One respected list of such attributes derived by John Gardner is:

Physical vitality and stamina

Intelligence and judgment in action

Willingness (eagerness) to accept responsibilities

Task competence

Understanding followers/constituents and their needs

Skill in dealing with people

Need to achieve

Capacity to motivate

Courage, resolution, and steadiness

Capacity to win and hold trust

Capacity to manage, decide, and set priorities

Confidence

Ascendance, dominance, and assertiveness

Adaptability and flexibility of approach (John Gardner, On Leadership, 48-53).

What follows is a series of articles that highlight Nehemiah’s demonstration of each of the attributes on Gardner’s list.  The articles do not retell the story of Nehemiah and are recommended either for a reader already familiar with the basic narrative or as a supplement to a study of the book.  This fourth article illustrates Nehemiah’s task competence.

Leaders must have enough situational awareness to understand the work they superintend, but this does not mean that they must be experts on every job in the organization.  Certainly at the lowest levels, leaders must have intimate knowledge of the task at hand, but as a leader’s span of control expands, he cannot be reasonably expected to have mastery of more than a few of the matters under his jurisdiction.  Instead, his “task competence” means having knowledge of the whole system, its mission, and the environment in which it functions (Gardner, 50).

In Nehemiah 1: 11, Nehemiah describes himself as “cupbearer to the king.”  This position of trust and access no doubt marks Nehemiah as a man of capability, but there is nothing to suggest that Nehemiah was trained as an engineer, project manager, architect, mason, carpenter, or any of the other skills that might well serve a man embarking on an endeavor to rebuild a wall.  We know from Chapter 4 that Nehemiah was actively involved in the actual work, but there is no reference to any particular construction competence he may have had as an individual.  What is readily apparent, however, is Nehemiah’s ability to delegate and divide up work efficiently and effectively.  Chapter 3 chronicles how Eliashib and his fellow priests rebuilt the Sheep Gate, the sons of Hassenaah rebuilt the Fish Gate, Joiada and Meshullam repaired the Jeshanah Gate, Malkijah repaired the Dung Gate, and many others did their share of the task.

Nehemiah showed he understood the nature of the work when, in Nehemiah 2: 8, he requests King Artaxerxes make provisions for the timber needed for the project, but the task for Nehemiah was not to himself use that timber to make the beams.  There were others who had that skill and could do it well.  The task competence required of Nehemiah was to superintend the project and to organize it so that all involved could put their own task competence to good use.  This he did well, and we learn in Nehemiah 6: 15 that the wall was completed in just fifty-two days.

Lower level, direct leadership usually requires a fair amount of technical skill in the task at hand.  Higher level, more indirect leadership usually requires more interpersonal and conceptual skills.  As the organizational and strategic leader, Nehemiah drew heavily on these skills to not so much accomplish technical tasks himself, but to create conditions that allowed others to do so.  Among these conditions was the effective division of labor chronicled in Chapter 3.  Especially at the organizational and strategic levels, Nehemiah offers an excellent example of Gardner’s demand for task competence as a leader.

The Leadership of Nehemiah Part 3: Willingness (Eagerness) to Accept Responsibilities

In 458 B. C., the Persian King Artaxerxes authorized Ezra to lead some 1,500 Jewish exiles back to Palestine from Babylon.  The group encountered numerous problems in rebuilding and improving Jerusalem, and the city’s wall was in particular disrepair.  When word of this situation reached Nehemiah in Susa in 445 B. C., he appealed to Artaxerxes to appoint him as temporary governor and allow him to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall.  The story of Nehemiah is a strong testament to obedience to God and faith in action.

Nehemiah is also an excellent example of a good leader.  Numerous theorists have sought to identify the skills and capabilities that make effective leadership possible.  One respected list of such attributes derived by John Gardner is:

Physical vitality and stamina

Intelligence and judgment in action

Willingness (eagerness) to accept responsibilities

Task competence

Understanding followers/constituents and their needs

Skill in dealing with people

Need to achieve

Capacity to motivate

Courage, resolution, and steadiness

Capacity to win and hold trust

Capacity to manage, decide, and set priorities

Confidence

Ascendance, dominance, and assertiveness

Adaptability and flexibility of approach (John Gardner, On Leadership, 48-53).

What follows is a series of articles that highlight Nehemiah’s demonstration of each of the attributes on Gardner’s list.  The articles do not retell the story of Nehemiah and are recommended either for a reader already familiar with the basic narrative or as a supplement to a study of the book.  This third article illustrates Nehemiah’s willingness (eagerness) to accept responsibilities.

Gardner requires leaders to possess “the impulse to exercise initiative in social situations, to bear the burden of making the decision, to step forward when no one else will,” and to do so with willingness and eagerness (Gardner, On Leadership, 49).  Gardner implies action and intention, but Joseph Badaracco is even more direct in contrasting the somewhat passive “accepting” of responsibilities with leaders who “take” responsibility by wresting it “from a hard, recalcitrant worl.” (Joseph Badaracco, Questions of Character, 102).  In so doing, they demonstrate that they have “not only the skills but also the determination and personal strength to be a leader” (Badaracco, 113).  As Badaracco describes it, “taking” responsibility implies a greater emotion, assertiveness, energy, and psychological commitment than does merely “accepting” responsibility (Badaracco, 102).  Leaders take responsibility not when they merely know a job and its requirements, but “when they feel it is theirs” (Badaracco, 114).  This sense of ownership and personal attachment builds the perseverance a leader needs to see a task through to completion; not just grudgingly, but with eagerness.

Nehemiah learns of the sad state of affairs in Jerusalem from Hanani and some other men who tell him in Nehemiah 1: 3 that the inhabitants are “in great trouble and disgrace” and that the wall “is broken down, and its gates burned with fire.”  At the time, Nehemiah was comfortably in Susa, the cupbearer to the king.  He could have easily ignored the plight in Jerusalem or perhaps bemoaned it as unfortunate, but none of his concern.  Instead he accepted responsibility.  After praying, he went to King Artaxerxes and in Nehemiah 2: 5 asked to be sent to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall.  No one thrust this responsibility on Nehemiah.  He did not enter into it with reservation or half-heartedly.  Instead, with great commitment, eagerness, and purpose, he took ownership of the task.

An eagerness to accept responsibilities contributes to the leader’s sense of ownership, and a good leader transmits this attitude toward his followers.  Indeed after Nehemiah explained the situation to the potential workers, they too caught the eagerness.  In Nehemiah 2: 19 they heartedly tell Nehemiah, “Let us start rebuilding” and Nehemiah reports, “So they began this good work.”

It is unreasonable to expect leaders to have the exact same excitement about each responsibility laid before them.  Some tasks the leader will find extremely self-actualizing and others will be very mundane.  Nonetheless, the effective leader must be willing—even eager– to accept each responsibility on its own merits and to own it in full measure.  Certainly anything less than this robust commitment on the part of the leader will be quickly noted by followers and become detrimental to success.  On the other hand, a leader’s eagerness can also be infectiously salubrious.  Nehemiah offers an excellent example of Gardner’s demand for willingness (eagerness) to accept responsibilities as a leader.

 

The Leadership of Nehemiah Part 2: Intelligence and Judgment in Action

In 458 B. C., the Persian King Artaxerxes authorized Ezra to lead some 1,500 Jewish exiles back to Palestine from Babylon.  The group encountered numerous problems in rebuilding and improving Jerusalem, and the city’s wall was in particular disrepair.  When word of this situation reached Nehemiah in Susa in 445 B. C., he appealed to Artaxerxes to appoint him as temporary governor and allow him to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall.  The story of Nehemiah is a strong testament to obedience to God and faith in action.

Nehemiah is also an excellent example of a good leader.  Numerous theorists have sought to identify the skills and capabilities that make effective leadership possible.  One respected list of such attributes derived by John Gardner is:

Physical vitality and stamina

Intelligence and judgment in action

Willingness (eagerness) to accept responsibilities

Task competence

Understanding followers/constituents and their needs

Skill in dealing with people

Need to achieve

Capacity to motivate

Courage, resolution, and steadiness

Capacity to win and hold trust

Capacity to manage, decide, and set priorities

Confidence

Ascendance, dominance, and assertiveness

Adaptability and flexibility of approach (John Gardner, On Leadership, 48-53).

What follows is a series of articles that highlight Nehemiah’s demonstration of each of the attributes on Gardner’s list.  The articles do not retell the story of Nehemiah and are recommended either for a reader already familiar with the basic narrative or as a supplement to a study of the book.  This second article illustrates Nehemiah’s intelligence and judgment in action.

Gardner distinguishes between merely being smart and the ability to use that attribute to do the work of a leader.  He also distinguishes between “judgment” and “judgment in action.”  Gardner defines judgment in its simple form as “the ability to combine hard data, questionable data and intuitive guesses to arrive at a conclusion that events prove to be correct.”  Judgment in action transcends this ability to also include “effective problem solving, the design of strategies, the setting of priorities and intuitive as well as rational judgments” (Gardner, 49).

In a fashion similar to Gardner’s linkage of intelligence and judgment, the United States

Army links initiative and judgment.  Initiative is “the ability to be a self-starter—to act when there are no clear instructions, to act when the situation changes or when plans fall apart.”  As critical to leadership and organizational growth as initiative is, however, it must be combined with good judgment to be productive.  The goal then is not mere impulsive or ill-advised action, but initiative balanced with sound judgment to produce “disciplined initiative” (FM 100-5, Army Leadership, 2-12).

Disciplined initiative requires opportunity, ability, action, and risk management.  It

strikes the balance between “judging too soon and deciding too late,” while reflecting a leaning toward action.  Judging too soon is often the result of “knowing the answer before considering the question.”  Deciding too late is often the result of an unrealistic demand for complete certainty.  Leaders must be able to reflect while withholding judgment until sufficient facts are in, but then be able to make a decision and act while it is still meaningful to do so (Bob Johansen, Leaders Make the Future, 55).  It is this enlightened action that separates leaders from the mere intelligent.

Nehemiah demonstrated this disciplined initiative in his preparation to rebuild the wall.  Having obtained King Artaxerxes’s authorization, Nehemiah might well have jumped into the project headlong, without the necessary judgment in action.  Instead he describes in Nehemiah 2: 13-16 how he made a clandestine inspection of the wall.  Only after he had gained a full appreciation of the task at hand did Nehemiah confide in the Jewish officials and others who would be doing the work.

It is interesting that Gardner claims that, “most important, perhaps,” is that judgment in action “includes the capacity to appraise the personalities of coworkers and opponents” (Gardner, 49).  Nehemiah purposely did his reconnaissance alone, having “not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem.”  The implication is that Nehemiah wanted to have the facts before he took his case to his coworkers; that perhaps they were not quite ready to see for themselves the things he would see.  His course proved a wise one because after he told them what he had seen, Nehemiah 2: 18 records that “They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.’”  Nehemiah’s deliberate approach also allowed him to appraise Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem—the opponents of the project.  These three mocked and ridiculed Nehemiah, but he readily answered them in Nehemiah 2: 20 that “The God of heaven will give us success.  We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”

While leaders must be studious and thoughtful, they must also translate this mental preparation into action.  Timing is critical as they progress from one stage to the next.  As they make such decisions, they must also be circumspect of the impact on those around them.  Nehemiah offers an excellent example of Gardner’s demand for intelligence and judgment in action in a leader.

The Leadership of Nehemiah Part 1: Physical Vitality and Stamina

In 458 B. C., the Persian King Artaxerxes authorized Ezra to lead some 1,500 Jewish exiles back to Palestine from Babylon.  The group encountered numerous problems in rebuilding and improving Jerusalem, and the city’s wall was in particular disrepair.  When word of this situation reached Nehemiah in Susa in 445 B. C., he appealed to Artaxerxes to appoint him as temporary governor and allow him to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall.  The story of Nehemiah is a strong testament to obedience to God and faith in action.

Nehemiah is also an excellent example of a good leader.  Numerous theorists have sought to identify the skills and capabilities that make effective leadership possible.  One respected list of such attributes derived by John Gardner is:

Physical vitality and stamina

Intelligence and judgment in action

Willingness (eagerness) to accept responsibilities

Task competence

Understanding followers/constituents and their needs

Skill in dealing with people

Need to achieve

Capacity to motivate

Courage, resolution, and steadiness

Capacity to win and hold trust

Capacity to manage, decide, and set priorities

Confidence

Ascendance, dominance, and assertiveness

Adaptability and flexibility of approach (John Gardner, On Leadership, 48-53).

What follows is a series of articles that highlight Nehemiah’s demonstration of each of the attributes on Gardner’s list.  The articles do not retell the story of Nehemiah and are recommended either for a reader already familiar with the basic narrative or as a supplement to a study of the book.  This first article illustrates Nehemiah’s physical vitality and stamina.         Leadership is certainly not for the faint of heart, and physical vitality and stamina is needed to live what Joseph Badaracco describes as the “managerial life”:

Every day brings another over-full schedule, with scores of messages needing answers, big and little projects requiring shoves forward, tough conversations, and crises of all sizes.  Most days end with a pile of work left undone.  Most of these tasks require energy, care, attention to nuance, and some creativity—because people usually come through a manager’s door with problems rather than solutions.  And this stream of tasks continues for months and years (Joseph Badaracco, Questions of Character, 76).

Badaracco concludes that leadership oftentimes resembles more of “a long, hard slog and not a stirring adventure” (Badaracco, 70).  It is, note James Kouzes and Barry Posner, more often found “in the daily moments” than in majestic and awe-inspiring sweeping gestures James Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge, 342-343).  At times, it can seem like “an unending stream of problems and challenges” (Badaracco, 70). But caring leaders don’t simply endure these adversities with a grudging stoicism.  They embrace them in the belief that they make their lives deeper and fuller (Badaracco, 76 and 82).  To do so requires physical vitality and stamina.

Nehemiah was called upon to display physical vitality and stamina on many occasions during the rebuilding of the wall.  When the work was threatened by Sanballat, Tobiah, and the other enemies of the Jews, Nehemiah had to both continue construction and provide security.  In Nehemiah 4: 21-23, Nehemiah describes how “we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out.  At that time I also said to the people, ‘Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night so they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day.’  Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.”

Leaders are not always required to engage in such physical labor as was Nehemiah in the rebuilding of the wall, but the relentless demands of being responsible for others and the completion of a collective task always necessitates leaders have a formidable constitution.  Physical fitness, resiliency, and endurance are necessary for a leader to sustain the effort over time.  Nehemiah offers an excellent example of Gardner’s demand for physical vitality and stamina in a leader.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Leader or follower?  By which of those terms would you classify yourself?  For some of us, we would fall into each category at different times.  In my photo this week, you see a beautiful mother duck being followed closely by her small brood of offspring.  There is a leader here, and there are followers.

Take a look around you this week.  Make it a very brief look, at risk of making yourself sick.  But look around and see the utter chaos that is abundantly rampant in our society right now.  And don’t make it a political or partisan thing, because it is nothing but good versus evil.

Young folks are looking constantly for something, someone, anyone, anything to follow.  And they latch on to the first seemingly viable thing that comes their way, because to follow requires so much less energy and focus than to be the one who is followed.

I believe the Lord instructs us each to follow Him, certainly.  But the Lord doesn’t want us to simply follow and never lead.  We are called to be leaders in our world.  We are called to stand up, stand out, and speak for and about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It doesn’t take long in your looking around to see that it’s a simple diagnosis.  The world needs Jesus.  And they need Him desperately.  As you head into your new week, glance over your shoulder.  Whom are you leading?  See the faces (and the hearts) of those who follow, and set a course that will lead them to the Lord.

That’s it, isn’t it – the true role for which we all should strive – to be both a follower and a leader.  We have our work cut out for us, don’t we?

Just a thought.

The Leadership of Nehemiah: Physical Vitality and Stamina

By Dr. Kevin Dougherty –

In 458 B. C., the Persian King Artaxerxes authorized Ezra to lead some 1,500 Jewish exiles back to Palestine from Babylon.  The group encountered numerous problems in rebuilding and improving Jerusalem, and the city’s wall was in particular disrepair.  When word of this situation reached Nehemiah in Susa in 445 B. C., he appealed to Artaxerxes to appoint him as temporary governor and allow him to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall.  The story of Nehemiah is a strong testament to obedience to God and faith in action.

Nehemiah is also an excellent example of a good leader.  Numerous theorists have sought to identify the skills and capabilities that make effective leadership possible.  One respected list of such attributes derived by John Gardner is:

Physical vitality and stamina

Intelligence and judgment in action

Willingness (eagerness) to accept responsibilities

Task competence

Understanding followers/constituents and their needs

Skill in dealing with people

Need to achieve

Capacity to motivate

Courage, resolution, and steadiness

Capacity to win and hold trust

Capacity to manage, decide, and set priorities

Confidence

Ascendance, dominance, and assertiveness

Adaptability and flexibility of approach (John Gardner, On Leadership, 48-53).

What follows is a series of articles that highlight Nehemiah’s demonstration of each of the attributes on Gardner’s list.  The articles do not retell the story of Nehemiah and are recommended either for a reader already familiar with the basic narrative or as a supplement to a study of the book.  This first article illustrates Nehemiah’s physical vitality and stamina.         Leadership is certainly not for the faint of heart, and physical vitality and stamina is needed to live what Joseph Badaracco describes as the “managerial life”:

Every day brings another over-full schedule, with scores of messages needing answers, big and little projects requiring shoves forward, tough conversations, and crises of all sizes.  Most days end with a pile of work left undone.  Most of these tasks require energy, care, attention to nuance, and some creativity—because people usually come through a manager’s door with problems rather than solutions.  And this stream of tasks continues for months and years (Joseph Badaracco, Questions of Character, 76).

Badaracco concludes that leadership oftentimes resembles more of “a long, hard slog and not a stirring adventure” (Badaracco, 70).  It is, note James Kouzes and Barry Posner, more often found “in the daily moments” than in majestic and awe-inspiring sweeping gestures James Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge, 342-343).  At times, it can seem like “an unending stream of problems and challenges” (Badaracco, 70). But caring leaders don’t simply endure these adversities with a grudging stoicism.  They embrace them in the belief that they make their lives deeper and fuller (Badaracco, 76 and 82).  To do so requires physical vitality and stamina.

Nehemiah was called upon to display physical vitality and stamina on many occasions during the rebuilding of the wall.  When the work was threatened by Sanballat, Tobiah, and the other enemies of the Jews, Nehemiah had to both continue construction and provide security.  In Nehemiah 4: 21-23, Nehemiah describes how “we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out.  At that time I also said to the people, ‘Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night so they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day.’  Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.”

Leaders are not always required to engage in such physical labor as was Nehemiah in the rebuilding of the wall, but the relentless demands of being responsible for others and the completion of a collective task always necessitates leaders have a formidable constitution.  Physical fitness, resiliency, and endurance are necessary for a leader to sustain the effort over time.  Nehemiah offers an excellent example of Gardner’s demand for physical vitality and stamina in a leader.

 

 

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Many of you have dealt with and some will continue to face difficulties due to the world-wide pandemic surrounding a particular virus.  A virus is a sickness, a problem, a difficulty our bodies must endure from time to time in life.  Things get rough, some days are tougher than others, and if we aren’t careful, we soon feel as ‘down’ as we can dream to be.  And yet, we go on.

This particular picture, albeit blurry due to the water spray, is one I made several years ago while my wife and I and a group of friends were on a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico.  The winds had picked up, the ship was rocking somewhat, not dangerously enough to cause major problems, but enough to create issues while trying to eat dinner or walk down the corridor.  I took this photo of the waves as I lay on the bed looking through the porthole window wishing my world would quit rocking!  I remember that queasy feeling, the unsteadiness, and the longing for smooth seas.  The conditions weren’t such as to bother everyone, just some of us, apparently.  And it made for a strange few hours.

I look back now and see those rough waters as a simple little glitch in an otherwise wonderful cruise, beautiful weather, and great time in Cozumel.  The good very much outweighed the bad.

Think on that the next time you’re tempted to complain about how tough these days are.  Not to downplay anyone’s difficulties or the seriousness of anyone’s situation, but each and every one of these rough waves are temporary for the child of God!  Every single rough spot and every tough day along the way are simply little glitches in an otherwise beautiful trip!

Pray for one another this week as some endure tougher waters than others, and be thankful that God’s children can enjoy the ride of our lives.

Just a thought.

Weekly Inspiration

By Ryan Kelly –

What a time we are in.  2020 started off rough enough with wildfires in Australia, then it increased pain and fear to the max with COVID-19.  Then, after loss of life and significant economic devastation, we now are experiencing reflections of the pain of sinful prejudice against our fellow brothers and sisters.  What is next you may ask?  Only God knows…

There is one very important unifying theme among all of these sources of pain, though.  They are all the result of sin…a reminder of the fallen state of creation and humanity due to our rebellion against God.

When the Lord created the Garden, it was perfect and contained no natural problems of any sort.  Animals lived in harmony, fruit grew in abundance with no work required, and there was no concept of disease or even death.  It was only through our desire to become like God that we introduced sin into this world.

This sin has manifest itself into a variety of horrible actions and thoughts that we experience on a daily basis.  Racism is simply the result of this sin and the desire for the evil one to separate brother from brother, sister from sister.  The more divided we are, the easier we are for him to capture.

It is only through the blood of Jesus that we can be set free from our sin and overcome the problems of the world.  There is no law or policy than can possibly cure what ails the heart.  But together, standing hand-in-hand, we unite under the banner of Jesus Christ and spread His light and love throughout this world.  Together, through Christ, we are witnesses to all that the Lord has already conquered sin and death through the work of our Lord Jesus on the cross.

Let us not lose sight of the only message that is important – the good news of Jesus.  In the end, it is the only message that truly matters…that truly saves.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

This is a simple concrete birdbath.  It sits in a public place not far from where I live.  This particular day, it was unoccupied, but it was full of water.  Why would a birdbath need water if there are no birds around?  Why the water if it isn’t being used?  Why have a place for hot birdies to cool off if they don’t take advantage of it?

Why be kind?  Why smile?  Why share a pat on the back or a hug?  Why bother?  Because somewhere stands the one person who needs it!

Somewhere close by there are birds that will take advantage of the cool water of that concrete birdbath.  If the water wasn’t there, they would have to go elsewhere.

If we aren’t kind, loving, and sharing with the world around us, then how will they receive it?  The Bible asks us these questions. “How will they hear unless they are told?  And how will they be told unless we tell them?”

How will the world feel loved, how will our neighbor come to know Jesus, how will we ever make a difference unless we are first willing to share?  You keep a birdbath filled with water because the birds will soon need it.  You share the love of Jesus in this very messed up world of ours because even though they may not realize it right this minute, they need it!

How will our world ever change for the better, unless we are willing to make the effort too?

Just a thought.