"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Raising the Standard: Decisiveness is Evaluating a Course of Action Quickly and Accurately

This post concludes Character Sketches Volume 1... next up will be Flexibility in Volume 2 as we continue to approach these character traits with revelation and divine revelation (nature and the Word, God's Scripture our holy Bible). There have been some upsets in my life and I have not been as consistent in this undertaking as I would have liked to be. I apologize. Though I struggle privately, I continue to be pressed to get this out on the net, and that I will assuredly do. One man refused to give up when the pressure to abandon a task increased. Because he was able to evaluate a course of action and outmaneuver and stall his opponents, others were inspired to finish a monumental task. This project, completed thousands of years ago, still stands --- a lasting testimony to this man's decisiveness.
How Does Scripture Illustrate Decisiveness in Making Accurate Evaluations? A leader and his companions silently slipped into the night air. They carefully made their way to the edge of the city. Concealed by darkness, they skirted the surrounding wall and made mental notes of all they saw. Shocked and grieved by the conditions, they returned to their homes convinced that their task was of great importance.
The success of their mission depended on time and strategy. The leader was aware that jealous surrounding nations and even individuals within the city would take every opportunity to oppose the effort once they learned of it. For this reason the men concealed their observations by a blanket of darkness, after waiting until the third night to begin their investigation. In now way did this leader want to give his opposition an advantage to thwart his plan. Limited by time, his actions would have to be decisive and correct. He was aware that any delay might cause the project never to be completed. After the spying mission they gathered the city leaders together and explained their bold plan. The leaders agreed to its necessity but staggered at the tremendous amount of work which the plan required. Under the leader's direction, they initiated the monumental task with enthusiasm and teamwork. Laboring from sunrise to sunset they were inspired by his determination to complete the impossible job. Once the project was made known the anticipated opposition began. The leader was now faced with the task of outmaneuvering the would-be saboteurs. The king had given permission to begin the task but the leader knew that his enemies would try to slander him and convince the ruler to stop the project. In a decisive move, he motivated the people to work even harder to complete the job before these enemies could reach the king and return with a message. So determined was the leader that he didn't even take time to change his clothes. Through his example, others gained the morale and strength which were necessary to complete the colossal task. Because of his ability to evaluate his courses of action quickly and accurately, he was able to construct a massive wall twelve feet wide and thousands of feet long in the incredibly short time of fifty-two days. Nehemiah's decisiveness was rewarded by the permanent fortification of their city. Free from attack, the inhabitants were now able to live in peace and safety. (From Nehemiah 2:11 and Nehemiah 6)
How Did Nehemiah Win Favor With the King?
Although Artaxerxes allowed Ezra to beautify the Temple in Jerusalem in his seventh year (Ezra 7:8), he expressly forbade the building of the wall (Ezra 4:16, 21). The city had a long and infamous record of rebellion (Ezra 4:15, 19). The fact that four months passed before Nehemiah made his request to the king indicates its serious nature (cf. Nehemiah 1:1; 2:1). For Nehemiah to be made governor of Judah and to be able to fortify its capital revealed the tremendous trust the king placed in his cupbearer. Because he was indirectly involved in the assassination of his father, Artaxeres was well aware of the danger of poisoned wine. Nehemiah had the responsibility of protecting the king's life by keeping the poison out of his cup. It was a high position of trust which he faithfully and competently fulfilled. Artaxerxes was now looking to Nehemiah as he had in the past against Artaxerxes by making an allience with Egypt and Athens, the king could have possibly lost the entier area south of the Euphrates River (cf. Ezra 4:16). However, if Nehemiah remained loyal to his master, as Artaxerxes fully expected, it would do much to stabilize the entire area.
Where Nehemiah's Motives Pure?
Nehemiah's concern for God's reputation above his own is apparent in his humble and reverential prayer (Nehemiah 1:4-10). He lived in the splendid winter capital of the pagan Persian Empire while Jerusalem, the residence of the Temple of God, lay in ruins. Like Jeremiah he could weep and say, "How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people; how is she become a widow! She that was great among the nations, a princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary." (Lamantations 1:12) Nehemiah knew that the cause of the situation was the disobedience of his own people, but other nations would think that the God of Israel was less powerful than their gods. Nehemiah's concern was for the spiritual restoration of his people, and he realized the importance of rebuilding the city which was the center of the nation's spritual activities. He was willing to leave his position of prestigue and safety in order to accomplish this task.
How Was Nehemiah Able to Get the Job Done So Quickly?
Nehemiah had won the favor and confidence of the king; however, he knew that when governors Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem learned of his ambitious project these jelous leaders would go to the king to stop the reconstruction. Nehemiah calculated that he had only a few months before the king's message could be delivered and returned from Jerusalem to Susa (cf. Ezra 7:8, 9). It was imperative, therefore, that he get the job done within that period of time. He accomplished this by having each man concentrate on a small section of wall which bordered his property. By working long hours and not being distracted or discouraged by their opponents' diversionary tactics, they were able to complete it in the alloted time period. Nehemiah met each opposition of the enemy wisely and accurately, careful to choose a course that would nullify their undermining efforts. The red fox, easily recognized by its bright amber coat and white tipped tail, is the most familiar of all North American species. It roams a home range of two to five miles and may live as long as twelve years. The red fox attains a length of forty-two inches and raises a brood of frolicsome kits each spring.
How Does the Red Fox Illustrate Decisiveness in Making Accurate Evaluations? Because the fox is able to evaluate quickly different courses of action, it has gained for itself a reputation. The subject of many fireside stories is the sly red fox which has earned a reputation for its cunning and wit.Sly and crafty --- two descriptions which have come to be synonymous with its name. In addition, it is endowed with physical features that further enhance its ability to survive. Its nose is able to detect frustration, anxiety or fear - even self confidence. The fox also incorporates varied hunting techniques - each for a different kind of prey.
The fox is born with an innate fear of anything that is strange or foreign and exhibits a timid and cautious nature. Rigid training of the young begins early in life as the kits learn from their parents what is really dangerous and what is not to be feared. Learning from each experience, the red fox accumulates a repertoire of valuable lessons and tricks which are essential to its future survival. If a young kit is not forced to leave the area in which it was raised, its chances of survival are greatly enhanced. For the fox learns its terrain thoroughly, knowing every nook and cranny, river and stream, grove and thicket that would enable it to confound even the most experienced pursuer. Its familiarity with its own range coupled with its sleek, slender body which is designed for speed make the fox seem almost to enjoy a good chase. Depending on its age, intelligence, and experience, a single fox is easily able to outrun and outmaneuver a pack of dogs. Keeping a safe distance between itself and the pack, the fox runs a circular course of two and three miles in length and draws from its reservoir of tricks in an effort to outwit and elude its pursuers. It even refreshes itself periodically as it rests and feeds during the chase. The average dog is much slower and is not afforded such luxury. Foxes have been known to run dogs for as long as four days. While they remain relatively fresh, the unfortunate hounds have grown gaunt in the interval, and the rigorous chase has taken its toll in the worn pads of their feet. At every opportunity the elusive fox tries to conceal its trail by executing one of its tired and true ruses. The fox cleverly uses shallow bodies of water to its advantage. It wade3s through the water for as long as possible and then leaps high onto the bank at a decisive point in an effort to throw off the dogs. The water covers both the tracks and the scent, forcing the dogs to waste time as they race up and down the shore to retrace the missing trail. The fox has even wittingly used cows to cover its trail. Running through pastureland, it intermingles its scent with that of the cows and manure of the field. The pursuing dogs are not only confused by the clouded scent, but they create mass confusion as they try to follow a trail underfoot of the pasturing animals. Another trick which can always be drawn upon is the old double-back technique. The crafty fox turns in its tracks and actually runs back in the direction from which it came, retracing its steps for a considerable distance, it chooses the most strategic point at which to leave the trail. The unsuspecting dogs lumber past, noses stuck to the ground as they zip by the hidden fox. Amused at having outsmarted them, it trots away in the opposite direction as the confused dogs reach a dead end. In the wintertime, when the surface of ponds and rivers are frozen, the crafty fox uses even this to its advantage. A bewildered vixen was running out of options trying to elude the threat of pursuing dogs. Having maneuvered them to the shore of a frozen lake, the light-footed fox gingerly stepped across the thin ice, knowing all the while that the heavier hounds which were following close behind would crash through. True to form, the dogs didn't disappoint the vixen. Glancing back over her shoulder, she was assured that the chase had ended when the cold, wet dogs scrambled from the shattered ice back to the safety of the shore. Because the clever fox has learned to outwit its would-be adversaries, it is thriving today.

No comments: