Theology – A slow death through hestitation

The Nehemiah series earlier this year seemed to have been well received judging from the response from all those who attended. I have found the series on leadership easy to preach. The post-preach moments have been taken up with folk asking for more detail and several have even requested a copy of my notes. For a preacher who doesn’t preach by degrees, this is amusing. What do I give them? It all makes sense to me, but my squiggles and coloured markings defy good college homiletics. Having said that, my simple description of a path to death and compromise was heralded as being helpful and very systematic. So I’ve been encouraged to slot it into this blog.

My hero on the subject of ‘dealing with intimidation’ is Nehemiah. Here stands a courageous leader. Someone who knew God and was willing to rekindle the fire of hope and strength in God’s people. Even the sustained hostility from his enemies was unable to get this leader to forfeit his inheritance. There are several moments where this is highlighted, one of which is when Nehemiah is with Shemaiah. Shemaiah informs Nehemiah that “by night they are coming to kill you”, to which brave Nehemiah responds: “Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!”. Doesn’t that just make one tingle with satisfaction? Many Hollywood blockbusters carry this same theme: to boldly stand our ground and not surrender what is ours to keep.

Life can be full of threats and intimidation has many faces. Not only does it have its obvious appearance of aggression but there is also the smug look of the intellectual threat, the arrogant glare from the wealthy, the self-approving smile of the religious, or the self-satisfied ego-indulgent sneer of the popular. No matter how it appears, at the heart of intimidation is the desire to get you to doubt yourself. These faces seem to announce that they know more, have more, are more important, are more correct and more legitimate. Their self-seeking and self-serving efforts are just to get you to hesitate and slowly exchange your faith and confidence for doubt and uncertainty. This ultimately gets us to surrender our gifting and strengths.

A good leader is confident, decisive, firm and determined. Intimidation is designed to get you to falter on these virtues. The merits attached to anointed leadership are devastating to Satan and he will do all he can to break down your fighting spirit.

Consider the following breakdown as a demonic strategy to bring about a slow death through intimidation: 

  1. Intimidation- Threats of intended harm: Goliath, lion, bear, fiery furnace, the Red Sea, the lion’s den, the Jordan river in full flood, the cross, Saul (murderous threats), Herod, Satan, a religious system, economic recession, deserts and thickets.

2. Hesitation – A natural response to fear.

3. Loss in momentum – Momentum is essential for the successful completion of any task.

4. Frustration – Frustration results in the beginning of questions. The cost is considered and paralysis sets in as all effort, sacrifice and finances are considered.

5. Confusion – There are many voices and opinions, some stronger than others. Rumours abound and speculation is rampant. Gods voice is drowned out as we get tossed about in a bewildered sea of confusion.

6. Division – A house divided breeds disunity. There is no common purpose and hope is deferred.

7. Unbelief – Unbelief forces one to compromise and lean towards the easier option. A loss of hope often leads to a loss of faith which then leads to a greater loss of hope which in turn leads to a greater loss of faith.

8. Death – A betrayal of purpose as we flee our God-given mandate. We surrender what God intended for us because, unlike Nehemiah, we ran from the face of intimidation.

Perhaps we are all fighting some sort of intimidation in an area of our lives. All this is avoidable when we make good choices and behave in a way that reflects total dependency on God Almighty. It’s in that place of weakness that our prayer of repentance is heard. It’s here in a place of humility that we can change the death enticing spiral to rather become gradual increments of joyous resurrection as we make our way back to that place where we were.

By Ashley Bell