Collective rebuilding of life-giving structures

By Stanley Arumugam

City walls helped create a shared identity amongst a people. They provided security – a safe environment to work together productively. But some of the churches and NGOs I work with sadly remind me of Jerusalem’s city walls in the time of Nehemiah. The organisation’s walls are broken down by internal conflict, mistrust and fear. People are watching their backs, creating an inefficient and even toxic culture.

What can we learn from Nehemiah 3:1-12 about the way forward?

First, it was a collective effort. Everyone played a part in rebuilding the walls: priests, noblemen and perfumers… There is even a startling mention of a father rebuilding his part of the wall with his daughters. We may have to work in unexpected, counter-cultural ways.

It takes an inspiring leader to galvanise such a collective effort. But it also takes a wise leader to ensure that these new walls really are different. If we do not deal with the underlying issues, the new structures will perpetuate the same fears, doubts and insecurities. Walls easily become prisons.

Yet if we get to grips with the psychological and spiritual elements of the human condition in our organisations, this raises the possibility to create different structures that encourage freedom, energy and life.

  • What sort of structures do we work within?
  • How can we make our organisations more healthy, and life-giving?