Everyone knows how incredibly difficult it is to choose staff. How do you decide the right person to hire? How do you choose a team member or an advisor or anyone you want to work with you, for you, or beside you?
Billions are spent each year around the globe trying to get those decisions right. And billions are lost by getting it wrong.
As you might suspect, when you look into Nehemiah’s mind you find some help from a long gone employer. Given that he had great success in his work, and he succeeded where others could not, perhaps you can find some help in your staff choices.
We have reached the seventh chapter of his journal. After 52 days and millions of man and woman hours of work the walls of Jerusalem are finished. Something happens at this point which you can miss if you’re not careful. It was quite clear that, in Nehemiah’s thinking, the wall was the beginning and not the end. The wall only had meaning if people lived within it. This seems so obvious but many minds miss this point. Structures only have meaning if they nurture and prosper people. Structures on their own are meaningless. This is a crucial aspect of Nehemiah’s thinking.
Check out your work. If it’s a school it is the students and teachers that create the meaning. If it is a church it is the people who matter. If it is a business then it is the staff and customers who give it purpose.
Software on its own has no value if it does not empower people. Life on earth is about living beings not lifeless structures. If you have not seen this clearly you will find yourself caught up in the absurd, the petty and the meaningless. Your work will be empty and pointless. Find the people dimension and you are on your way to purpose.
So to choose staff Nehemiah now wants to make the walls warm with the breath of a population and the stones to sing the tunes of the heart. He wants to see gates swing to the rhythm of work, rest and play. He wants the structures to speak of the God who helped them build. So he appoints gatekeepers, singers and priests. He wants people to go in and out, hear the music of praise and know that everything is worship, from breadmaking to farming to trading to learning. This is the real Jerusalem, the walls are the shell – the life is inside.
Now Nehemiah’s mind turns to the appointment of leaders. Again, don’t miss the moment. Nehemiah could be an autocrat, a dictator with authority from the King of Persia. That is not in his mind. He had settled into a way of thinking long ago which knows that others bring value that he cannot. He has realised that none of us is as smart as all of us!
So he appoints two leaders with similar names to be in charge of Jerusalem. Hanani – his brother and Hananiah who had been commander in a palace or citadel. This decision was complex and clever. It contains within one verse a wealth of insight into Nehemiah’s mind and a massive mine of golden resources for the choosing of staff. We will look at them slowly. I will give you some nuggets to look at now by listing some words, then we will dig deep and find our gold. He are the words. Brother; along with; commander; integrity; feared God.
In the meantime enjoy the music inside the rebuilt walls of your work.
Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, 2 I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of the castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many. 3 And I said to them, “Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot. And while they are still standing guard, let them shut and bar the doors. Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, some at their guard posts and some in front of their own homes
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