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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.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

The world is full of evil.  That statement is not a revelation to any of you.  What may catch some of you off guard is that we are the world.  At the root of all of it, there is evil – sin.  And there seems to be such a distance between good and evil.  Two very opposite ends of the spectrum.  Yet, they are connected, because we are the connecting link.  We look around and see the sin and evil, failing to realize that but by the grace of God, there we go as well.

The picture I’m sharing is one of many I’ve taken through the years of our National Mall in Washington, D.C.  Using the ‘zoom’ on my camera, this shot is taken from the Lincoln Memorial looking across the reflecting pool through the World War II Memorial, past the Washington Monument, to the United States Capitol Building.  Each of these spots seem very close when you look from one to the next.  However, there is a distance of two miles from the Lincoln Memorial at one end to the Capitol Building on the other.  Each is separated by distance.  But they are all connected because of where they stand.

We look at the sadness, destruction, and riots across our country, and we think that because we are separated by distance, it isn’t anything with which to concern ourselves.  Yet, we all stand connected as citizens of this great nation.  And yes, I said great.  There is no making it great, or returning it to greatness.  The United States of America has always been great.  And we should stand united in prayerful support of our leaders.

The reality is we are all connected.  Through it all, we can see the pain and the greatness from one end to the other.  Evil will always be present at one end.  But praise God, He is always at the other.  Just look!  Through it all, He has not moved!  Great is our God.  Stand united and proclaim His greatness this week!

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Quarantine.  Lockdown.  Social distancing.  Call it what you wish.  We all have different opinions and emotions wrapped up in this experience.  Congregational worship has been changed for all of us.  And although some have learned how to broadcast through the internet, tune in to a radio or television preacher, or even attend a drive-in type service, none of these can compare to being in God’s house in person with other Christ followers and Bible believers engaged in corporate worship!

This photo is of my church.  You know, I have always cringed whenever I would hear a preacher of any kind refer to a church with that phrase – “my church”.  It is, after all, not mine.  It is God’s.  It is ours.  We make up the church.  To say it is “my church” implies that it all belongs to me, all the people answer to me, and I am in control.  Well guess what.  I am far from in control, but I am so thankful God is!

And because all these days, weeks, and months we have been forced to find other places and ways to worship instead of appearing inside the church building, I looked at my photo and automatically thought, “I’m so ready to be back in my church!”  My church.

I claim it.  Not arrogantly, but because I long to be there.  I’m ready to be back worshiping together in God’s house, in our church building, in my church – filled with my fellow believers, my friends, my family members, singing my favorite hymns, and worshiping My God!  This week, name it and claim it.

Looking forward to being back inside my church.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

I’m sharing a picture of a flower garden with you this week.  If you’re like me, you need to see some beauty in the midst of the chaos.  Many people are struggling really hard right now in many different areas.  We are trying to remain strong for those around us.  And yet, some days are dark and dreary, much like some stormy days we’ve had recently.

We need to see some beauty.  So here is a picture of a flower garden.  There are different types of growing plants.  There is an arch and a pathway on which to walk.  There is open space.  Perhaps you have flowers growing in your yard or in pots sitting in your kitchen window.  Focus on the beauty.

The simple beauty of the world around us can actually bring us much closer to the Creator.  You wander around in the garden, and you realize you are much closer to Him.

This particular little garden just happens to be across the street from the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  Not only is God’s beauty present, but His church house is nearby.

I believe our response to any crisis can make or break us.  Our attitude about the difficulties can carry us along or bring us down.  Our own focus on the situation can help or hinder us.  All of those things are in our power.  Ours.  On what are you focused?  The dirt, danger, and distress?  Or the beauty in the midst of it – the helpers, the heroes, the individuals who are working so very hard to maintain some beauty in this hurting world.

Stop and smell the flowers.  You’ll be glad you did.

 

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

The world in which we live is changing rapidly, many times daily.  One thing our COVID-19 quarantine or shelter-in-place orders have given us is more time, it seems.  Of course we’ve always each had 24 hours in our day.  But doesn’t it seem as if a lot of those hours were wasted?  For so many of us now, there seems to be the extra time we’ve wanted for reading a good book, cleaning out the garage, or simply enjoying the beauty of God’s creation.

This particular picture is from the beautiful Anna Ruby Falls near Helen, Georgia.  These water falls, as beautiful as they are, require time and effort to reach.  You must hike quite a ways up a mountain side pathway in order to experience the beauty of the falls.  But I assure you, the time is well worth spent.

How are you spending your time?  Believe me, I understand that there seems to be trouble all around us.  Folks are in a panic.  The economy seems to be in trouble.  Jobs are in jeopardy.  Our health is in danger.  However, God hasn’t changed.  He hasn’t moved.  He is ever-present.  He knows all about it.  And the beauty of His creation is something to behold.

The birds are singing.  The roses are more beautiful than I’ve seen them in several years.  And the clear cool water will continue to flow.  Sometimes it requires an effort to behold, though.  Maybe you can’t leave your home or property right now, but get up out of that easy chair.  Explore the yard or just sit by the window or on the back porch.  You might not see a water fall, but I can promise you that God’s beauty and His presence are evident all around you.

Try focusing on nothing but His beauty this week.  It won’t necessarily make the problems go away, but your focus and your attitude (and perhaps your blood pressure) will all benefit.  At the top of that mountain side, the beauty of the water falls and surrounding area was breathtaking.  And this was so, because we did not focus on the long, very steep hike back down the mountain!  We were only focused on the beauty of it all.

Praying for a beautiful week for you.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

This little sign hangs in my bathroom.  It simply says, “Live Like A Wildflower”.  I’ve always thought it was a neat little sign, but only lately have I begun to really think about what it means.  How does one actually live like a wildflower?

Well, you’ve heard me, perhaps more than once, remind us that we are to bloom where we are planted.  We are to make a difference right where we are.  That could be part of what this means.

But I think it goes a little deeper than that, especially right now.  You see, wildflowers are hearty.  They are strong and resilient.  They pop up where and when they choose.  My yard currently needs mowing.  In the midst of the grass are little wildflowers.  There are tiny blue ones, small white ones, blooming clover, and the occasional dandelion.  A wildflower is strong because it overcomes adversity.  It grows through the weed jungle, popping up sometimes in cracks of the concrete or asphalt, and wherever else it can.

Right now, in our ever changing world, perhaps for the first time in some of our lives, we really understand the truth of never knowing what tomorrow holds.  So let me challenge us each to live like a wildflower.  It’s ugly out there.  The world needs a bright pop of color.  Folks need to see God’s people standing strong in the midst of the mess.  We must make a different on the concrete or asphalt this week.  Live like a wildflower.  Overcome adversity.  We must.  The world depends on it.  And God expects it.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Spring is literally on its way.  The birds are singing their praises to the Master all around us, and the days are a little warmer.  It won’t be very long until you’ll see the dogwoods blooming, if some aren’t already.

Look closely at the dogwood flowers.  I’ve always heard that the dark spots at the ends of the 4 leaves represent the marks in Jesus’ hands and feet from being nailed to the cross.  The center of the flower represents the crown of thorns.  And in a sense, the 4 petals make up a cross shape.

God certainly is in the nature around us.  My question to you this week is, “Is our nature found in God?”  Or worded a little differently, “Is our nature Godly?”  This simple little white flower seems to represent the great love of Christ.  Do our lives represent that same love?  Can folks look at us and see the marks of Jesus?  Can they see the scars of life representing the things He has brought us through?  Do we represent Him in our world?

Spring means light and life, sunshine and warmth, beauty and new birth.  Does your life represent these things?  Praying you have a ‘spring’ in your step this week, and that the light of Christ warms your heart and the heart of those with whom you share.

Just a thought.