It seems like Americans are increasingly looking for bailouts. And it bothers me. Because among other things, I believe it’s our readiness to accept individual responsibility and take personal initiative that makes us distinct. Take that away…start immediately looking to the government to solve problems…and we become a docile herd of cattle waiting to be cared for. On the up side, the herd is usually well cared for. On the down side, it’s then led to slaughter. Which in this illustration means a herd mentality puts your life at steak. Okay. I admit. The world is full of complex social issues and there is no single answer. But there are answers and perhaps, some of them are straightforward. That’s why I find the story in Nehemiah 3:15-5:13 so intriguing.  It’s a simple solution to a complex problem. Although I’d love to see the response if a government leader today suggested it. If not voted out of office, he/she would certainly be laughed out of it. Here’s what was going on. As a nation, the Jews were in exile. The wall around their great city, Jerusalem, had been torn down. A symbol of security and their once, proud heritage…gone. The Prophet, Nehemiah sought to rally the nation. And he decided to accomplish this by repairing the wall around Jerusalem. A monumental task that would require massive resources, skill, and organization. But how? Well, in that day, homes were built up against the wall. So Nehemiah encouraged homeowners and people in the neighborhood to take charge of rebuilding the wall section in front of and near their home! How do you think that idea would go over today? I can already hear the objections. Where’s the government oversight? The professional engineers? Who’s overseeing the specifications? Handling inspections? And what about the unions? It was a ridiculous idea even in that day and their enemies living in the surrounding areas laughed at and mocked them. But the Jews ignored it. They formed work groups based on common interests and geography that took responsibility for rebuilding different parts of the wall. And little by little, section by section, home by home, the wall went up. You have to figure it required extensive cooperation between neighbors and maybe even within the communities. Materials and supplies had to be sourced. Measurements had to be matched. Knowledge and tools shared. But each group took responsibility for rebuilding a particular section of the wall.  And as progress was made the taunting enemies grew worried. They even considered a military attack to stop the rebuilding. The Jews just buckled on their swords, posted sentries, and kept right on working. Nehemiah 6:15 records: “And the wall was completed in 52 days and the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.” Okay, so maybe the Jews cheated. Because they were empowered by an unshakeable faith in God. And history is full of miracles when faith in God is exercised. But the point remains that when people collectively take individual responsibility, amazing things can happen. I think it illustrates an important principle: Great communities, organizations, and nations are not the result of a massive effort from the top down. They are the groundswell of personal initiative, community support, and hard work exercised from the bottom up. Each of us taking individual responsibility for a section of the wall. And in my opinion, cooperating as one nation under God. I’m in. How about you?


Chip Tudor is a freelance copywriter, published author, playwright and pastor. He publishes drama at, books on, and articles on his blog.

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