If you want to delegate important tasks or responsibilities to others, you may think that someone who could be at peace with others would be high up on your possibilities list. This might be a deceptive characteristic. A person who seems to be at peace with others may be preferable to a troublemaker but the peace could also be misleading. Some of the greatest leaders in every walk of life and every era of history have been troubleshooters. They disturb the peace, create change and challenge the status quo (as did Jesus of Nazareth).
The presence of trouble, of course, can be due to the stirring up of opposition which, to a certain extent, is outside of the control of the troubleshooter him or herself. Nehemiah stirred up trouble and, in building his wall, provoked all kinds of responses from enemies and his own people. So in choosing his deputies he wasn’t simply looking for an easy going character. You have seen that he wanted someone who feared God, someone who shared Nehemiah’s own God- fearing heart. He has, in Hananiah, chosen someone who clearly has strength, with a history of being in charge of a citadel. To be in charge of a citadel was very likely a military, as well as diplomatic, position.
There is something else that Nehemiah wants on his team. It is described in the use of the English word “integrity”. It is not as easy to define as you might think. At the basic level it links to the Latin word “integer” which means whole or complete. Nehemiah’s mind is clearly looking for a man of wholeness or completeness to bring completion to the city. But as you have looked already into Nehemiah’s mind you will not be surprised if I suggest we find the model of integrity which will inform his choices here in that same mind.
If you look through our observations of Nehemiah himself in the previous 26 editions in the archive (www.worktalk.gs/archive) you will discover a catalogue of characteristics that describe Nehemiah’s own integrity. Rather than merely repeat them might I suggest some important aspects and observations?
The fear of God in Hananiah had to do with his relationship with God and how that would play out in his dealings with people. This matter of integrity, which Nehemiah has in himself and for which he is looking for in his team, has much more to do with an internal relationship with the self. We have looked at how Nehemiah related to Nehemiah, now he’s looking for how Hananiah relates to Hananiah. Now you get clues into Nehemiah’s thinking and a framework to explore integrity.
Integrity has to do with relating to all parts of yourself. Is there a part of you to which you are estranged? Commonly many are estranged from their wounds, weaknesses and shadows.
It’s an interesting paradox that week after week we Christians confess sinfulness but ignore or despise the sinner within. How often have you heard the phrase “I love the sinner but hate the sin”. Turn that to yourself and you will discover that hating parts of yourself will only lead you to suppress those parts of yourself. It will lead you to neglect those parts of yourself and you will become alienated from your own nature. You’ll become a despised stranger in your own inner life. Pretty soon your shadowy, struggling nature will be the ignored beggar by the roadside.
What happens when you do this? That which you have ignored will express itself in other ways. Illness, rage or depression will take a hold of you as your despised parts show up in your life.
Now look at Nehemiah. He was in touch with his tears and pain. He was in touch with his own past failures in breaking covenant with God. He was connected to his anger and frustration. He even realised that he had missed his own role in the unjust treatment of the poor in the economy. Nehemiah’s mind was integrated. He had an internal wall within which his lions and lambs could lie down together. His darkness and his light were present to him and he did not hide from his feelings, weaknesses, wounds or failures. He made room for celebration and mourning in his same soul. In short, Nehemiah had a whole and complete relationship with himself. That is integrity. That is what he wanted in Hananiah.
Integrity is not perfection. Integrity is not even about doing all things in the right way. Integrity is the almost ruthless quest to meet every part of who you are. Without integrity you will find it hard to accept others – because you are not accepting yourself. With integrity you’ll find it easier to meet with others completely because you are meeting yourself completely.
Of course how you handle all these parts or characters within when you meet them will be determined by what spiritual dynamic and moral driving force is motivating you. That’s where the fear of the Lord comes in. That’s why Nehemiah wanted integrity and the fear of the Lord in Hananiah. To be more accurate that’s why Hananiah, who already had integrity and the fear of the Lord, was appointed. In Nehemiah’s mind he was looking and longing for a combination – in Hananiah he found one – then he combined that with his brother Hanani. Then he combined them both with himself. That’s a fine mind at 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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