Resilience was one of the predominant character traits of the early Christians. They called it being steadfast. For these early Christians being ‘resilient’ meant being able to keep going despite set backs, discouragements, betrayals, unforeseen circumstances, lack of energy, motivation, and resources. Like a weary hiker looking down a long road that leads to the mountain range they must walk over, being resilient in life means putting one foot in front of the other, and then doing it again, and again, and again, and so on. God knows that today, in what many are describing as “Post-Christendom” (and the resilient among us prefer to think of as Pre-Christendom) to be resilient is to live with a purpose, to stay focused, to live for others, and to strive toward a good, honourable, goal. With so many reasons to lose sight of the true purpose of life the tendency is to be tricked into believing that life right now is too hard. But the truth be told – people need to know how to be more resilient. Leaders especially need to be resilient right now. Churches assuredly need to be resilient at this time. With the recent interference into churches by government through the measures they said was “to keep people safe” — it has actually depleted people’s ability and willingness to be resilient! Here’s what leaders, people, and churches can do about it.
One of the most remarkable examples of great leadership given in the Bible is that of Nehemiah. Others may claim that the feats of King David were greater and these people may have a point. But I have word to say in favour of Nehemiah and offer several reasons for regarding him as the greater leader. Firstly, King David was a builder while Nehemiah was a re-builder. As any builder can tell you, building is far easier than rebuilding. King David was a military commander whose soldiers were compelled to obey his orders. But Nehemiah was a public servant, a royal wine-waiter, who had no power to compel anyone – yet dozens of people willingly assisted him to fulfil his leadership vision. King David executed his opponents. Nehemiah used his wits to avoid and even ignore his opponents and outsmart his critics. King David’s lust and arrogance nearly undid all the good he had done. Nehemiah’s refusal to be corrupted ensured that the divine plan of redemption remained on track and paved the way for the coming of the prophesied ‘Son of David’ who would atone for the sins of all mankind. And ultimately, Nehemiah achieved this with far, far, fewer resources than the enormous wealth that King David’s military spoils afforded him. Without an army, or thousands of servants, or the wealth of a king, Nehemiah instead employed one of the most powerful strategies that any leader can use: partnership.SOME WALLS NEED TO BE TORN DOWN AND SOME WALLS NEED TO BE REBUILTSOME WALLS NEED TO BE TORN DOWN AND SOME WALLS NEED TO BE REBUILT
It is too easy to think of a Spirit-filled, on-fire church as large a congregation with great music, great facilities, great programs, and great preaching. And, to be fair, it could be. But those things would be incidental not causal or resultant. Conversely, it would too easy to think of a small church in a small town with no worship band, no building of their own, no paid pastor, and no programs as “dead”. And, to be fair, it could be. But those indicators may just be incidental to its death, not the cause of it. A Spirit-filled, on-fire church can be either large or small, found in a large city or a small country town. It could have great music or no music at all. It could have a gifted dynamic preacher as its pastor, or it may have no pastor at all. But without exception, all Spirit-filled and on-fire for God church have three essential qualities.