If we could describe our dreams for our lives, we would probably imagine them as this glorious kingdom. Majestic towers full of our achievements and successes. Happy people roaming the streets, being the recipients of the overflowing of our blessings. That is the easy dream. It is the happy dream. Nothing wrong. Sunshine-filled days. Floating at the creek or fishing. Hunting. Biking. Playing video games.
I bet we would also try to build a wall around our kingdom our successes, to keep others from coming in and disrupting the good thing that we have going on. We want to keep our lives pristine. We want our blessings to be protected, and we sometimes fall into the trap of believing that we can actually do such things.
But imagine what would happen if we looked at our kingdom and instead saw rubble. The walls around our kingdoms that protected our spoils and blessings, once splendorous, but now reduced to dust and battered stone laying on the ground. The buildings and ornate towers that once stood within the wall now gone. Instead of a thriving testimony to the outcomes of our greatness, instead, it looks like one big tomb to everything that we have done wrong in our lives. Every ounce of broken concrete bears an epitaph speaking of the mistakes and sin we have committed, which lead to this point of despair. Imagine trying to escape the horrors of those memories, but continuing to keep getting pulled back in by those who remember our lives as they were, but then see the state of our lives now and comment on it. Out of that, a question arises.
“Could you still lead?”
It is easy to lead when things are going well. When the church is thriving and growing, it is easy to lead. Everything is going great. When the marriage is great, it is easy to lead. When the friendship is great, it is easy to lead. When the kingdom is glorious, it is easy to lead. Don’t get me wrong, leadership is never easy, but for the purposes of this illustration, its not too difficult. What happens, though, when that scandal hits the church, and everybody leaves? What happens when infidelity hits the home? What happens when that friendship is broken? When the kingdom is reduced to rubble and there looks to be no hope of a return? See, I believe that:
“True leaders are born in the rubble, not in the castle.”
In the hard times, where is your drive to improve things? Where is your willingness to go back into the destroyed walls of your Kingdom and rebuild it? Where is the strength of your heart? Your intestinal fortitude? See, while it is not easy to build the kingdom in the first place, rebuilding is a different monster altogether. It requires vision beyond what it initially took to complete the work.
Rebuilding means standing there in the midst of every reminder of how you’ve messed up, and deciding that life is worth moving forward in the midst of the mess.
And just how does a leader prepare for a task such as this? Well, in Nehemiah 1, we see that after he hears the report about the disrepair of the wall in Jerusalem, Nehemiah prays fervently and passionately. We will look at this a little more in depth very soon. For now, though, I want to focus in on the preparations that Nehemiah made in order to be the leader that the Israelites needed in that season.
Was he in charge of the staff? Did he make decisions every day that affected the entire kingdom? Was he the Secretary of Defense? Surely he was on the King’s cabinet of advisors, right?
“I was a cupbearer to the king.” Nehemiah 1:11
See, the misperception of leadership is that a leader has to come from a position of power to be prepared to rightly use power. What is so wrong about this is that most of us will never come from a position of power or strength. What rightly creates a leader in any moment, is the willingness to see the need and pour everything they have into meeting that need. What creates a leader is not the castle, but the rubble.
Leadership is not necessarily in the initial building but in the rebuilding.
God is asking if we can find the will to stand in the middle of the rubble of our lives, or the rubble and mess of someone else’s’ life, and see His vision for restoration and rebuilding. The wall must be rebuilt. Who will do it? Who has the passion and the burden to do this?
There was nobody else willing. So the cupbearer stood up or fell down on his knees. And thus a leader was born.
In order to rebuild the wall, we simply must be willing.
So are you? Willing?
It’s going to be hard. Rebuilding means cleaning up the mess that is already there. It means reliving the memories of what used to be there.
So are you willing?
You don’t have power right now. Nobody listens to you. Nobody thinks you have anything of worth inside of you. You probably don’t think you have anything of worth inside of you either. But are you willing?
Cause if you are..
It’s time to rebuild the wall.