I teach the Senior Adult Sunday School class and our lesson for yesterday was based on Nehemiah 5 in which Nehemiah, who is permitted to return to Jerusalem to help rebuild the city’s walls, encounters a situation which is affecting the morale and relationships within the Israelite community. It is an economic issue that threatens the health and well-being of those who are seeking to rebuild physical walls but now find the human walls of community collapsing.
Nehemiah, when he finds out, is angry and acts to correct the situation. And as we talked about leadership, in the context of Nehemiah’s leadership, it hit me. Leaders do not know everything.
Now you may already be thinking, “Jim I already know that!”
“Do you? Do you really already know that?”
Have you ever been in a situation where you had to address a conflict/complaint that came out of nowhere and broadsided you? I have!
I realized yesterday that Nehemiah was not a bad leader because this conflict was occurring . He had no knowledge of it.
But when he did hear about it, he did something then.
As we discussed this, I looked into the faces of those gathered and said to them, “I know things about each of you but I only know a small part.”
I supposed you had to be there to understand. But for me it was an important ‘ah ha!’ moment when I realized that I, as a pastor and a leader, do not know the back stories of those I have cared for over 11 years. And it means that I shall never know them all.
But it also was serendipitous moment when I realized that I do not know everything that people think I know. God knows everything there is to know and I think that as I need to know ‘things’ I will… know them.
And I will continue to be blindsided from time to time, in part, because the expectation will be that I know about “this” and that I am hiding something… when I do not and I am not.
The implications here are profound and large – there are liability issues to such things and there are credibility to them as well.
But when I do know ‘things’ then I have the responsibility to act and act quickly and well and deeply.
Nehemiah did and the situation improved for those rebuilding not just a wall but a nation.
What would had happened if Nehemiah would have never found out?