Nehemiah 3: 28-30
28 Above the Horse Gate, the priests made repairs, each in front of his own house. 29 Next to them, Zadok son of Immer made repairs opposite his house. Next to him, Shemaiah son of Shekaniah, the guard at the East Gate, made repairs. 30 Next to him, Hananiah son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section. Next to them, Meshullam son of Berekiah made repairs opposite his living quarters.
Leadership is a funny and fickle enterprise. I am not sure how many of you reading this devotional have ever found yourself in positions of leadership and needing to get your people to do something they wouldn’t have normally wanted to do but needed to-maybe at work, a mission project, or even just with your family.
I always seemed to be in this proverbial “rock and a hard place”.
If you are like me, it is likely that you gave your people a task and they perhaps went about it half caring or disengaged. It’s not necessarily that they have a particular character fault but rather that they didn’t see the value in the work being asked of them. It could also be that they saw the task as busy work or merely an inconvenience.
In management, I had a philosophy around expectations called Set, Relay, Develop, Follow Through, and Hold Accountable. It’s simple: Set the clear expectation, find the best way to relay that expectation to your people (email, meeting, teleconference etc) and then develop your people to ensure they understand that expectation. You again could hold one on one training sessions or team meetings to ensure they have a full understanding of what is being expected. The last two steps are the most difficult and probably the most important but more on that in a moment.
Nehemiah understood the importance of setting expectations and urged the people to begin rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Nehemiah set the expectation that the wall needed to be rebuilt and relayed that expectation to the people as well as went around developing that expectation.
The genius of Nehemiah, however, was how he enforced accountability. Nehemiah could have easily gathered everyone in the town center and solicited volunteers to rebuild the wall, could have assigned random sections to random people, or hired unknown people to completely repair the wall. In our scripture reading today we see a brilliant management technique in which Nehemiah convinces the people to have a vested interest in the success of their toils by fixing the wall by their house/places.
I am not sure you are like me but if I am fixing a fortification right behind my house to keep murderers and marauders away, I am going to make sure that my house isn’t the weakest section of the wall. In fact, because I have a particular interest in not being the first stop on a pillaging campaign, I am going to do a far better job than if I was assigned to a random section across town. I’m not going simply procrastinate and say “maybe I could get to this tomorrow” knowing how life is and that tomorrow will never actually come. The immediacy of the need and the relevancy of the danger to their own lives and those they cared about dictated that they did a great job fixing the wall by their homes.
Our question today is:
What does Nehemiah remind us here in La Junta in 2017 and the “proverbial wall” we must fix?
Or put a bit differently: Are there areas in our ministry as a church we have treated as “that section of wall across the city” and haven’t put our full attention or devotion to?
We are called as Methodist to try and build disciples for the transformation of the world. Each one of us, block by proverbial block, is helping to build the Kingdom of God.
May it be so,
Rev. Lou Ward
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