Many long term readers know that my family takes time each night to read together and sing. We usually pick a spiritual song to sing, then take time to read a chapter of our scriptures (Hebrew Bible/Christian Testament) as we work through a complete book or something else. Take some time to discuss, and then close with prayer. For the past 10 days we have been blessed to enter into the story of Nehemiah from the Hebrew Bible (you can read through Bible Gateway here). This was one of the stories explored in my leadership courses at Alberta Bible College, so has been used by me for allegories and teaching periodically in my career to share leadership tips with others. This is not going to provide a chapter by chapter or verse by verse guide. What is going to be shared is some key thoughts and points, that if you enter into reading Nehemiah you can see where they pinpoint for you, as well as some questions for reflection at this point and time in your story, and then just a song we sung during our exploration time (and you will see the songs, don’t really need to tie into the themes but can).

A ride to assess the full scope of a project, yet we are jumping ahead (though sometimes as a story teller isn’t it more fun to jump in to the rising action and then flashback to how we go there?). Seriously though, Nehemiah is one of the leaving exile stories. It is about rediscovering who we are, and the pieces of community that are needed for health and functioning. The Coles Notes of Exile is simple, the nation of Israel/Judah had decided individuality, power and money were more important than God and Neighbour, in spite of many prophets coming to sound the alarm and show the path back (and a history of Judges that lived through the reset with them) they did not listen and were warned that there was punishment coming. That is the loss of nation and imprisonment, where the fallacies would be laid bear, and they dysfunction of the system the 1% had imposed on the people revealed.

It was in exile as slaves, some rose to more prominent slave roles than others. Nehemiah was one such, he was cup bearer to the king. What a role, living in the court, but being responsible to ensure no poison was present (so yes, luxury but never knowing when death would come). This is when he would get the call, as it was being said some were being released from exile and heading back to rebuild the ruined Jerusalem. Nehemiah would get this call to the unknown. The king would support it.

  1. Listen into the silence. Are you on the right path? Is there a call being laid on your heart that is a passion for you? How can you tell? Is fear or anxiety maybe creating the gremlin voices to surge to hold you back?

Nehemiah would head out to take over the lead on the rebuilding project of the walls and gates of the city. A new start, but what a project, very overwhelming as it comes into view what needs to be done. What does Nehemiah do? He takes a high level ride to assess what all needs to be accomplished. A full scope understanding of the project to see what needs to be done, so when he meets the people he can assess their strengths to accomplish the rebuild (and yes he would go to the high plains a few times to assess progress).

2. Ensure you have all the pieces of the project and purpose from a high level before jumping into planning (First Things First).

Other pieces in the story? Simple, all were involved in the re-build, regardless of previous career, socio-economics or caste. Each person brought forward with their strengths, and assigned areas to rebuild. It truly was an all in this together. For, without each person doing there part, the work would not be accomplished in time to ensure community safety and prosperity. As well, it lowered the hierarchy-patriarchy that had caused the exile. Neighbour met neighbour, and it was no longer possible to simply cast one aside as a statistic or label.

3. We’re all in this together.

Be reactive to change as the project progresses. As those who do not want to see the status quo change, who enjoy the subjugation of others, who are lost in fear of what is coming, of the new system of inclusion. Anger and hate can be channeled to create chaos and violence. As they built and this became apparent, Nehemiah was not only doing his duty building in the trenches, but the builders also had tools in one hand, and a weapon in the other in case of attack. Versatility, there may be specialists, but in crisis generalists need to improvise and stretch roles for success.

4. Be ready for the aggressive clapback with positive change and as a leader be alongside your team in the trenches.

Another key piece of the story is the listening to experts (in our era, researchers and scientists) to understand who we are, where we have been, and what this can mean where we are going. Ezra, is this character, he shares the story of the nation, that which led them into exile and loss. When those in the midst of re-building under stress and confusion of change, try to behave the same way, Ezra is the one that “Gibbs'” them (ever see NCIS on CBS? Lead Agent Gibbs’ curt head smack when an agent goes off course, that is what happens here). It is the knowing who we were, who we have become, and who we are becoming. While being prepared to rapidly answer those that want to re-create the cycles of oppression, hatred, and pain that created the crisis in the first place.

5. Know one’s history, learn from it, grow from it, and ensure that you do not cycle back.

Finally, there is quite a few chapters laying out roles and names. It can seem daunting, but why is it there? Simplicity of understanding for a society to be healthy and thriving everyone’s role is to be valued. Everyone must be cared for, and able to have simple things such as water, food, home, belonging and purpose. This is why these points exist, and what this ancient wisdom has to share with us today. In a world where we try to shame minimum wage work and argue it shouldn’t be something that one can live off (contrary to the actual legislation when enacted decades ago); when we try to deride someone as “drama teacher”, janitor; waitress/server, etc… What we need to understand is simply every job in society is need for us to function, they should be celebrated for doing the job. For some it may simply be a job while they pursue other interests/artisan callings, for some the job may be where they find purpose and belonging with those they serve and serve with. But truly, it is about crafting a society where everyone’s calling can be affirmed and happens; where everyone belongs, where everyone has a home.

6. Ensuring we have a society that honours our work; a society where all find authentic belonging; a society where no one goes hungry; and all have a HOME.

For the 6 major points take time to reflect and process what they mean to you? Where are you currently in your journey?

If money was not an issue (or other gremlin voices) where would the tiny heart voice in the silence be leading you?

As we move through this time of c-tine, what are you emerging out of exile into in your life and community?

Where is the rebuilding calling you?

One of the songs we discovered for our sing-a-longs, from Blake Shelton, just fit more with the theme of rebuilding out into the new:

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