Nehemiah's 10 Principles For Public Positioning.
NEH 4:1 Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he mocked the Jews. 2He said in the presence of his associates and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore things? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish it in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish--and burned ones at that?” 3Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “That stone wall they are building--any fox going up on it would break it down!”
What are we to do when our ministry is under attack?
4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their taunt back on their own heads, and give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 5Do not cover their guilt, and do not let their sin be blotted out from your sight; for they have hurled insults in the face of the builders.
Step 1: Pray. Have we taken these matters first to the God of justice? This must be our first step.
6 So we rebuilt the wall, and all the wall was joined together to half its height; for the people had a mind to work.
Step 2: Get on with the job. Empowered by prayer, the people will have “a mind to work.” The work proceeded to half its completion. Work brings meaning. We are engaged in community (wall-building, World Vision, whatever) for some purpose. This is our mission. Accomplishing our mission is satisfying. Whatever happens, we must keep working. It's easy to forget, when you're up to your neck in crocodiles that your main mission was to drain the swamp. Don't be completely distracted. Get on with the job.
7 But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and the gaps were beginning to be closed, they were very angry, 8and all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it.
If we pray, and get on with the job, this will redouble the activities of our critics.
9 So we prayed to our God, and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.
Step 3: Pray. And set a guard. Always praying, Nehemiah sets up a physical guard against the attacks. Can we take this metaphorically? What is our guard against the subtle attacks of propagandists? Surely it is weapon for weapon, even if we say we shall not play by the same sinful rules. If a man chooses a weapon against us, we must consider using that weapon in return. Nehemiah's enemies feared a physical attack with spears and swords. He set up a guard with spears and swords. We can assume he hoped he would not need to use it. But he had it, in case.
Against the propagandists we must set up a guard of positive propaganda. Our weapons must be stories, media releases, events the media will cover, public and private networking. We must set it up. And be ready to use it.
10 But Judah said, “The strength of the burden bearers is failing, and there is too much rubbish so that we are unable to work on the wall.” 11And our enemies said, “They will not know or see anything before we come upon them and kill them and stop the work.”
Now, Nehemiah finds his people tiring. The work is hard. It is easy to get worn out. Savouring the moment, the enemies are saying they will strike easily and deliver a killing blow.
12 When the Jews who lived near them came, they said to us ten times, “From all the places where they live they will come up against us.”
As a result, the people themselves lose morale and confidence. They begin feeling paranoid. They see enemies everywhere. “They're coming to get us” begins to dominate their minds and their horizons. The work falters as people look away from the wall.
13 So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows.
Step 4: Shore Up the Weak Spots. Nehemiah looks for the lowest parts of the wall, where an attack is more likely to succeed, and stations a defence force. We must do likewise. Where are World Vision's weak spots? Let us develop a strong public relations force to combat any attack at our weak spots. What are our defences? If we have made mistakes, let us acknowledge them as learning opportunities, and demonstrate how World Vision has improved itself, its ministry, and the poor, as a result. Evaluations are strong weapons in the development business. I think we do not do enough of them. Nor do we publish them widely enough. When we try to, there is much fear about admitting we made mistakes. This leads to a cover-up, put-it-behind-us mentality, that leaves open sores untreated. Critics look for the open sores.
14 After I looked these things over, I stood up and said to the nobles and the officials and the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the LORD, who is great and awesome, and fight for your kin, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”
Step 5: Act Like A Leader. Remind the people that there is someone in charge. Remind them that their leaders know about their problems, their fears, and are acting to defend them. Remind them of the power of the Lord God and the way he has honoured this work. Remind them that there is something to fight for - “your kin, your daughters, your wives, and homes.” This gives us confidence to be ready to fight.
15 When our enemies heard that their plot was known to us, and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his work.
Step 6: Let Your Enemies Know You're On To Them. The best general is the one who never has to fight. The best victories are the ones won before the battle field. Your confident and public defence will demoralise your enemies. Be open. Do not plan in secret. Public relations cannot be in private.
Step 7: Keep the Real Work going. When under attack it is more important than ever to keep the real work going.
16 From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and body-armour; and the leaders posted themselves behind the whole house of Judah, 17who were building the wall. The burden bearers carried their loads in such a way that each laboured on the work with one hand and with the other held a weapon. 18And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me.
Step 8: Assign some people as specialists, but equip everyone. Nehemiah's division of labour was generous. Half his people worked on the wall: half on the defence. Is this a guideline? It is too easy to underestimate the resources needed for the work of public relations. But it's more than employing a few PR specialists. Everyone must be equipped. This means training and information to all staff. The CEO must be seen to have the issues clearly on his/her agenda.
One way to signal this is the reporting relationship. Nehemiah puts “the man who sounded the trumpet” right beside him. If you want people to know something is important around your organisation, have it report to the CEO.
19 And I said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread out, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. 20Rally to us wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet. Our God will fight for us.”
Step 9: Have an Action Plan. It's not enough to have everyone trained. They must know what to do when there is an attack. The plan, and everyone's involvement in it, must be clearly spelled out.
21 So we laboured at the work, and half of them held the spears from break of dawn until the stars came out. 22I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night inside Jerusalem, so that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.” 23So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me ever took off our clothes; each kept his weapon in his right hand.
Step 10: Be Vigilant. It doesn't sound very hygienic, but they didn't even take time to change their clothes. Personally I think it is good to shower every day. The point is to be vigilant. There may be times when we need to work around the clock. It may be necessary for the CEO to take the lead and be seen to be working longer and harder. This sets an example. Later there will be time to relax (although it is usually necessary for us to be more intentional about relaxing than working).