It seems that increasingly, as a society, those are becoming dirty four- letter words. We have become so willing to pass the buck on to the next person. A leader is defined, though, by a willingness to accept the mantle of being both accountable and responsible. It is a curious thing. I think that our perception of what those words really mean can get skewed. Even as I am typing up this blog this morning, I am hearing God speaking to me about this very thing. In my own life, I generally associate being accountable and responsible as a personal matter, where I accept what i did wrong.
But what if I did nothing wrong, yet I still feel the urge to apologize and fix things? I believe that is where leadership begins to become something that God can use. See, it’s not necessarily about what has been done wrong.
Being an accountable and responsible leader means that regardless of who did what wrong, you are willing to stand up and do what is RIGHT to fix it. It is not about shifting and assigning blame, but rather having the courage to move past the problem and provide the solution.
Nehemiah seemed to understand this innately.
“I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.” (Nehemiah 1:6b-7)
So here we have Nehemiah, following the report given from Hanani earlier in the chapter, in a transitional period of processing his emotions and preparing to act, by praying to God. Smart guy. He knew the history of his people. He knew what had landed them in this position in the first place. He knew everything. The prophecy of Daniel and others that God was going to restore them as well. Upon hearing such a poor description of events from his brother, it would have been easy for Nehemiah to completely turn his back and keep moving in his own direction. After all, he was the cupbearer for the King, which means that he had it pretty good, aside from the tasting for poison thing. He could have passed the buck. He could have shifted the blame to the ancestors and their wicked ways.
But he didn’t.
Nehemiah took responsibility for the issues that got Israel there, and he took responsibility for being a part of the solution.
“They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” (Nehemiah 1:10-11)
In these passages of scripture, a very poignant picture of leadership is painted for us. See, there is no mold for leadership that a person can be stamped with. It looks differently in all of us. For that reason, we all have the potential to be leaders. In Physics I learned about potential and kinetic energy. Potential energy is stored, while kinetic energy is released. Leadership potential can be stored all of our lives for one specific event that causes us to make a choice.
Leadership is a choice.
In this case, Nehemiah chose to lead. He chose to take up the mantle. Nobody anointed him like Elijah did for Elisha. Nobody spoke prophetically into his life. Nehemiah saw the problem. He owned the problem on behalf of an entire generation of Israelites. Finally, he chose to be the one to help solve the problem.
We make this entire idea of leading much bigger than it has to be. We make it this big deal where everyone sees some sort of “power” and badge being placed upon us. You don’t have to wait for someone to allow you to be a leader.
It’s who you are.
It’s as simple as a choice. It is as simple as being accountable for doing the right thing, and being responsible for finding a solution.
Where will you lead? How long will you store up your leadership potential? When we will quit passing blame and looking to others to fill the leadership voids that so visibly exist?
Rebuilding the wall means that we take on what might not be ours, and find a way to make it better for everyone. That is leadership.
So what’s your choice?