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Nehamiah’s Mind 5:Cupbearer


Issue 433

Here’s a question for you. What do these characters have in common? Dr Watson: Tonto: Sarah Churchill: Jeeves: Silas: Barnabas: Mary Magdalena: Hephaeston: Chrichten?

Here’s a second question. Have you noticed that anyone who has achieved anything in any sphere of life almost never achieves It alone? Even if they appear to be loners, somewhere in the picture there will be a face at the side or the back. These characters have various names. Sidekicks, ladies-in-waiting, butlers, valets, assistants, towers, caddies, deputies, lieutenants or aides. They are those who go before, beside or behind and they do not make up the numbers they, make all the difference. They are not like other team members or foot soldiers, nor other members of the household, they are the special ones, the unique individuals who are the secret power behind any type of throne. Whether fictional character or real life player, these are the ones who make the one.

One such was Nehemiah and he was a cupbearer to the King of Persia. The top line of his job description involved tasting the King’s drink and food before the King did and making sure it was fit for him. Every working day Nehemiah risked his life for his King. The point of the pre-prandial taste was not to decide whether the meat was rare or medium but whether it was poisoned. Kings had enemies everywhere.

Don’t miss the symmetry here – every day Nehemiah went to work, the King also trusted his life into his hands – perhaps three times per day. The King had the power of life and death over all his subjects, but Nehemiah held the King’s life in his cup all the time.

Not surprisingly, the role of the cupbearer carried with it more than culinary qualities. Any King who knew how to rule would nurture those whom he could trust completely. The cupbearer would become privy to the King’s thoughts on money, sex and power. The cupbearer would know what others wanted to know and would be trusted to stay silent. The more powerful the King, the fewer real confidants he could have as power struggles were constant companions.

So the cupbearer, like the lady in waiting, the butler, the aide, the sidekick became the trusted companion, the reliable right or left arm, the person of safety for the vigilant regal soul when vulnerability was needed.

Foolish would be the King who took these aides for granted or alienated them. How many times in history do you find the assassin’s weapon, not in the hand of the enemy, but the body-guard who finally had enough?

So inside Nehemiah’s mind was a beautiful, symmetrical architecture, a juxtaposition between the royal and the cupbearer, the ruler and the confidant, the commander and the right arm. Nehemiah had learned the inner skill of developing a trustworthy mindset. He thought like the King’s protector, predicting danger, watching out for the good of his employer. He knew how to stop the poison before it even reached the Kings table.

In WORKTALK we use a concept called Core Process to describe the way you do anything being the way you do everything, and for Nehemiah his Core Process involved bearing cups. He drank from the cup of reliability or toxicity, warnings or silence, truth and discretion and his mind contained a dual dynamic where he understood both the King’s needs and his role in meeting them.

So what can you take with you from his mental storehouse into your week this week?

The obvious mental resource is for you to recognize and celebrate the role you are in. Do you identify more with the King or the cupbearer? If you are in the position of power – who is your cupbearer – do you honour him or her and do you nurture them with all your energy recognizing that your working life is in their hands? You simply cannot survive without him/her.

If you are a cupbearer have you learnt the meaning of taking the poison before it even reaches your “King”. Have you learnt to think the thoughts of the secret hand and to celebrate your amazing privilege?

For both King and cupbearer, trust not resentment, is the order of the day. These things are worth pondering.

But don’t stop there. For you to fulfil your role you will need to sit down at your inner table and recognize that there is a King (or queen) and cupbearer in us all. Part of you needs to place your trust in your inner cupbearer every day of your life. Each day you will need to find that part of you that takes the poison, keeps you safe and plays the secret hand of assistance. Each day your inner cupbearer will need to serve the royal within you so that you can make the big decisions with your back covered.

Each must value the other. Inside of you the symmetric mental architecture will make you strong. The lone-ranger and the Tonto, the Queen and the lady-in-waiting must rely on each other to get you through the day – every day.

But don’t stop there. Look past Nehemiah to the Nazarene. If ever there was a King He was such. But watch Him carry His cup of sorrow as He sets His face in the garden of Gethsemane. Soon to die outside the same walls that Nehemiah built, the Cupbearer-King displays the perfect model of the symmetric mind. Nehemiah will need his whole mind, King and cupbearer, for what he is about to do – so will you – everyday.


Nehemiah Chapter 1:11 final line

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Series: Nehemiah's Mind
Module: 2
Season: -
Daily Guide: No

Tags: assistant, interdependence, responsibility, role, trust

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Geoff Shattock

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