I’ve been reading the book of Nehemiah and learning some fascinating lessons on leadership and service as I move into what God has in store for me in 2008. This morning I read through chapters 3 and 4, as Nehemiah detailed who repaired what part of the wall protecting Jerusalem. In 3:5, he mentioned the noblemen of Tekoa, who were the one group that he lists as lazy (Belinda’s interpretation). Even the priests contributed to helping in the rebuilding of the wall (vs.22), but these men will be listed in history as the men who were unwilling to ‘put their shoulders to the work of their Lord.’ I’ll have to study this more in a different Bible, but my historical understanding of noblemen would lead me to believe that they probably scoffed at the idea of manual labor, thinking that what they were being asked to do was beneath them. Another possibility, since Nehemiah specifically points to the men’s decision to not follow their leadership, is that they had no respect for their leader, or that they were mule-headed in responding to authority. I pondered the question, how many times might I have missed out on the work of God because I turned my nose up at a task that was “unworthy” of my abilities?
I love the example our pastors’ wives set before us. Growing up, and until we joined this church eight years ago, I had always been exposed to the pastor’s wife as more of a princess. Her primary role within the church was to sit silently on the side of the pastor and look pretty. In fact, as a bit of a digression, that’s been a fascinating piece of this investigation into the alleged financial malpractices of various mega-church ministers: we as a people love to pamper and shower our ministerial staff. I’ve got my own opinions about giving ministers and ministers’ wives Rolls Royces and fur coats (how much of this could be used for missions and outreach?), but I’ve also been to churches where the leadership fully expects to be placed on a pedestal, whether it is a car, a piece of jewelry, or just the biggest piece of chicken at the Sunday dinner. Anyway, as I was saying, the pastor’s wives at our church have taken on a very different role: they work, and they work hard. Those who knew our pastor’s wife when she first arrived at the church jokingly refer to her as the ‘white tornado’ because she can clean quicker and better than any storm. Whether serving the sick, ministering an encouraging word, or washing dishes, this group of ladies models the servant leadership of Jesus Christ, and they are amazing to watch.
Scripture states that whether we clothe the naked, feed the hungry, take care of a child, or in any way do for the least of them, we have done it unto Him. It also tells us that each drop of water we pour for others is a ministry unto Him. As we move into the new year, my husband and I are being asked to participate in a ministry that will fundamentally change the way our church operates. We are interacting with the church leadership, helping make decisions, and impacting thousands with our words and actions. It would be easy to get big-headed and consider ourselves on a higher level. It would also be easy to become mule-headed as we will undoubtedly confront the church elders, who’ve ‘done it this way forever.’ Our church history will hopefully be that we as a couple helped the church move from its 80’s technology into this age. If we really do our jobs, a number of cumbersome processes will be streamlined, allowing the leadership to focus on higher priorities. However, my personal prayer is also that I will set another excellent example of servant leadership just as those whom the Lord has allowed me to see. Lord, remind me gently to put my shoulder (and my wisdom and discernment) to whatever work is asked of me.