#122: Expect Opposition When Attempting to Accomplish Something Great

Have you ever had God give you a big, audacious vision of something He wanted you to accomplish? It was so big you didn’t even know how, apart from Him, you could possibly do what He was asking?

Nehemiah Oppression

I guarantee that if you accept God’s challenge to accomplish a great work for Him, you will be met with opposition. The enemy stands ready to resist God, and will use any number of weapons to thwart your success.

Nehemiah was a Jewish exile who was cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia. God presented Nehemiah with the idea of returning to Jerusalem to coordinate the work of the returned exiles who were attempting to rebuild the city walls.

He spoke to the king who approved the trip to Jerusalem and even paid for the provisions and material needed out of the King’s treasury.

Shortly after arriving in Jerusalem, Nehemiah gathered the leaders together and challenged them to get busy rebuilding the city. As they started the work of rebuilding the city walls and gates they faced both internal and external opposition from those who wanted to see the rebuilding efforts fail.

Nehemiah faced six types of opposition:

1. False Accusations

Powerful outsiders who lived around Judah falsely accused Nehemiah of rebelling against the king. Nehemiah rebuffed their accusation saying that God would give them success, and continued the rebuilding (Nehemiah 2:19-20).

Lesson for Us. The opposers will make false accusations as you begin to do God’s work, but they are the ones with false motives and lying tongues. Our response should be to pray and keep working!

2. Derision

When these powerful outsiders found that their false accusation didn’t stop the work they resorted to mocking the rebuilding efforts, suggesting that the people were too pathetic to do the work themselves and that the wall would fall down at the slightest touch (Nehemiah 4:1-3). Nehemiah’s response was to pray to God and to continue the work.

Lesson for Us. The opposers will mock you, make fun of you, and do anything they can to shake the confidence of the people doing the work in an effort to get them to quit. Our response should be to pray and keep working!

3. Attack

As Nehemiah continued rebuilding the opposition forces came together and plotted to attack Jerusalem to throw the people into a state of confusion so they would stop working. Nehemiah’s response was to pray to God, to encourage the leaders, and to post guards to protect the city (Nehemiah 4:7-14).

Lesson for Us. When other more subtle methods don’t work, the opposers will resort to outright attack. They’ll do anything and everything to create confusion amongst the people doing the work, so that that they will quit. Our response should be to pray, encourage the leadership, and take steps to protect the workforce from the opposers.

4. Set a Trap

As the work neared completion the opposing leaders tried to set up a meeting with Nehemiah, but their intent was to kill him and thus stop the completion of the work. Nehemiah’s response was to pray to God and refuse to meet with them (Nehemiah 6:1-9).

Lesson for Us. The opposers may try to set a trap for you, as an unsuspecting leader, in an effort to discredit you and stop the work. Our response should be to be prepared for traps coming from the enemy, pray to God, and continue the work!

5. Set Another Trap

When the first trap didn’t work they tried to intimidate Nehemiah and trap him into fleeing into the temple out of fear that men were coming to kill him.  Nehemiah’s response was to pray to God and refused to be intimidated by those who threatened him (Nehemiah 6:10-14).

Lesson for Us. Just because the first kind of trap didn’t work doesn’t mean the opposers won’t try again. Our response should be to pray to God relying on His strength and protection, and refuse to be intimidated by threats.

6. Spies in the family

The work of rebuilding the wall was completed, and most of the enemies gave up their opposition. But one man who had family inside Jerusalem was writing letters to family members, and the family members were trying to convince Nehemiah how great this man really was. Nehemiah’s response was to reject their attempts to influence and intimidate him (Nehemiah 6:17-19).

Lesson for Us. Never assume that all the opposers lie outside your organization. There are quite possibly a number of people inside your organization working against you. Our response should be to pray to God for His strength and protection, and keep working towards God’s best!

At some point in any great work, whether it is in a ministry or in a business, there will be those whose desire is to see you fail. They will oppose you with false accusations. They will mock you. They will come at you with direct attacks. When those don’t work they will try to traps and more traps. And when all else fails, they will use spies in your organization in an attempt to poison your work from the inside.

Note that Nehemiah’s response to the oppressors was to pray and to act based on what was needed in that situation!

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What kind of opposition have you experienced in your ministry or in your workplace?

 

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Category: Skills | Problem Solving

 

#103: How to Fail as a Problem Solver and as a Leader

It doesn’t take astute powers of observation to notice leaders who fail. They are all around us in business, government, and even in our churches.

Fail Leadership of Aaron Golden Calf

While the causes of leadership failure are many, there is perhaps no more surprising an example of leadership failure than that of Aaron, brother of Moses.

Let me set the scene for you. Moses and Joshua were up on Mt. Sinai for 40 days. During that time God was giving Moses incredibly detailed instructions for the construction of the tabernacle, the consecration of priests, and for the observance of the Sabbath (Exodus 24-31).

God appointed Aaron as the designated leader of the nation while Moses was up on the mountain. A month passed, and the people got impatient waiting for Moses to return. They approached Aaron about making foreign Gods out of gold to worship.

Mind you, the people still had the presence of God in the tower of clouds and the pillar of fire to remind them that He was in their presence. This is the same tower of clouds and the pillar of fire that had led the nation through the desert, but they wanted something man-made to worship.

So Aaron acquiesced to their demands, told the people to get their gold together, and made a golden calf. Then he told the people the golden calf brought them up out of Egypt (32:4)! Then to make matters worse, Aaron built an altar before the golden calf and proclaimed a day of feasting to the Lord. The next day he brought burnt and peace offerings. What was he thinking?!

Then, when Moses came down from the mountain, he found the people partying and the golden calf. Moses called Aaron out, and Aaron threw the people under the bus. Aaron told Moses “you know these people they are set on evil.” Then Aaron lied saying he just threw the gold into the fire and out popped the golden calf!

How Aaron Failed as a Leader

1) He Lacked Faith

Aaron was standing next to his brother through all the visits to Pharaoh and witnessed all the miracles as God fulfilled His promise to free the people. Then God led the people through the Red Sea, and He displayed His presence to the entire nation as a tower of clouds and a pillar of fire. Despite these clear signs that God was protecting them and right there with them Aaron’s lack of faith made him weak as a leader and allowed him to be swayed by pressure from the people.

What we should do. God is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1). When being pressured by outsiders, a Godly leader must stand strong, firm in their faith, and trust in God, that where God leads He will protect.

2) He Facilitated their Corruption

Aaron failed as a leader again when he made the golden calf and built the altar. Instead of leading, he is now complicit in their corruption.

What we should do. Leading people in the wrong direction is never a good idea. It’s bad enough when a leader succumbs to the pressure of a crowd, but to join in with a bad idea strips away all your authority as a leader!

3) He Worshiped an Idol

Aaron furthered his error by leading the people astray in their worship of the golden calf and declaring a feast. Moses had already given Aaron God’s instructions (Ch. 20) that prohibited making and worshiping idols, and yet he does it anyway.

What we should do. Violating policy, or worse, breaking the law, is no way for a Christian leader to lead. But to lead others into bad behavior compounds the error.

4) He Didn’t take Responsibility

When Moses comes down from the mountain, Aaron blamed the people, accusing them of being evil. He then lied and blamed the fire for creating the golden calves!

What we should do. Leaders never try to cover up errors or blame the people in their organizations when mistakes are made. Cover-ups, deceitfulness, and lying are not part of a good leader’s toolkit!

Application

One of the challenges of being a leader and following God is that there will be times when we need to solve a particularly difficult problem. The leader was problem solver must remain strong and faithful to God’s direction. Aaron, as the designated leader, was confronted with a problem, but never took control of the situation, and in fact made the situation much worse!

When a leader makes a poor decision, they should stop, reconsider their course, and set a new direction for themselves and the organization.

Finally, a leader needs to take responsibility for their decisions! When mistakes are made, and they will be, leaders need to take responsibility for the error and take corrective action.

In Aaron’s case he may have thought he could keep the people happy by letting them have their idol, but ultimately this was the wrong path and he knew it!  He may have thought he could cover up and talk his way out of trouble with Moses, but God saw what he did and knew what was in his heart.

The consequence of his action was all those who he led into sinning against God were blotted out of God’s book. As leaders, we need to be especially mindful of our responsibility to set an example that leads people to Christ, not drives them away!

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you worked for a leader who failed in some respect? How did that affect the organization?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

Category: Skills | Problem Solving