FOR THE MAN READY--TO MOVE UP! By the title, you can tell that this is going to be a column that is right on time for some members of the brotherhood ready for that promotion, new opportunity, or new venture. Contrary to public opinion, there ARE men out there who are ready to take the next step. Men in industry. Men in business. Men in the church. Men in the public sector. Men in the private sector. They have been loyal, faithful, honest, and above board in all that they do. However, they have been overlooked by those on top of the power structure. The reasons vary. Part of it rests in fear of the great things that they COULD accomplish if given the chance to lead. Part of it rests in the fact that their bosses, supervisors, or other leaders have found a way to discourage them. Let me stop at this point and make it plain. The reason SOME men never get that promotion or moved to another level or department or ministry is that they are doing such a GOOD job where they are, their bosses WON’T promote them! Thus, the man who COULD help save a company, a church, or community grows weary of being ‘stopped and blocked’, and takes his talents and skills to another field or venture. This CAN also happen in relationships. Sisters, its all right to play ‘hard to get’ for a little while. But, when the man in your life has asked, time and time again, for your hand in marriage, and you say ‘NO’, DON’T be too shocked when HE STOPS ASKING, and turns his attentions and affections elsewhere. But, I digress. Meanwhile, let’s move on ahead, and see how YOU can know if its YOUR time to move out, and move up! THE NEHEMIAH PRINCIPLES: Everyone has heard about ‘The Prayer of Jabez’. I’d like to introduce you to ‘The Principles of Nehemiah’. Maybe they are already out on the market in some ‘self-help’ business success manual. However, this man’s story can be found in the Bible, right where everyone can read it. Nehemiah was an Old Testament man, who was employed in a King’s administration in a low-level job. He was content to work that job, and work before the King, without complaint or controversy. One day, he got some news from ‘back home’. It seems that his hometown of Jerusalem had gone through some hard times, and needed both urban renewal AND new leadership. Add to this the fact that his old neighborhood was surrounded by the meanest assortment of thugs the world had ever seen. Brothers, have you been there? Anyway, Nehemiah gets the news, and launches into some reflection and inspection, as well as some prayer and fasting to get his heart right before the Lord. The First Principle: Get yourself RIGHT with God BEFORE the way is opened! Brothers, I know that some of you have laid out some ‘big coin’; buying someone’s tapes, or attending someone’s seminar. However, have you considered going back to that book you keep around and can’t seem to get rid of? Have you thought of checking out the Bible? THE SECOND PRINCIPLE: Nehemiah had a second principle of success. He had done a good job where he WAS, and asked his present boss for help AFTER he sought God’s leadership and wisdom. That’s one of the reasons why I can relate to this man; he understood not only the rules, and the ruler; but who has ULTIMATE control over the ruler. God himself. Needless to say, upon hearing his plight, the King sends him on his way, complete with letters of introduction, money, materials, and an escort to the new territory. Nehemiah was a good employee during the lean times. THIS helped fuel his promotion in the FAT times. Moving up ALWAYS involves timing! YOU have to know when it is right to move, and when it is not. Plus, Nehemiah chose his words carefully, tactfully, and respectfully. He didn’t ‘get into the King’s face’ (like many of us are tempted to do), but took his time in making his request. FORWARD--MARCH! After Nehemiah moved out, he had to contend with another principle that many of us seem to skip. He sized up the task, and made mental notes as to what needed to be accomplished WITHOUT ‘blabbing’ his plans to his friends--or enemies. Brothers, beware at this point. Not everyone is going to be happy that you are venturing into a new opportunity. There are those who are ‘friends’ who are really ‘traitors’, ready to give away your plans at the drop of a briefcase. Coupled with your true enemies, you’ll have a seemingly unbreakable wall of opposition (if not downright frustration). Nevertheless, PLAN your future work. Make the phone calls. Turn off the television. Read the books and study the business plans. Discipline and schedule yourself for planning. You’ll need that same determination for the fourth principle. WORKING UNDER HOSTILE FIRE: Now comes the hard part for a man who has been blessed with a plan: Putting that plan in motion, under hostile fire! Your enemies (and you KNOW you have them) are not going to simply ‘lay back’ and ‘be quiet’ while you build your new venture. The enemies on the outside are going to do several things to keep you from focusing on work: *They will try to intimidate you from a distance. *They will try to put fear into your crew, supporters, and suppliers. *They will threaten you with lawsuits, terrorism, or bankruptcy. *They will mount a whispering or gossiping campaign against your family. *They will try to attack your work at its weakest point. I like what Nehemiah did next. He led by example. He kept at the work (rebuilding the walls of the city) while armed, and alert. Not only did he find and inspire a loyal crew; he taught them and encouraged them in warfare and self-defense. They kept at the task, armed to the teeth--taking ONLY time out to wash their clothes. In fifty-plus days, the walls to his hometown of Jerusalem were rebuilt. But it was here that Nehemiah discovered a more sinister enemy--the enemy WITHIN the camp. THE FIFTH PRINCIPLE: DEALING WITH TRAITORS! As I mentioned before; there are some folk who are not going to be helpful to your career advance! While there are enemies OUTSIDE of your new venture, the DEADLIEST enemies are often those in our own corner. Nehemiah, first reminded these ‘rebels’ what their duty was to their brothers and sisters. Next, after reminding them of their need for loyalty, Nehemiah continued his resolve to rebuild his city. He put the ‘rebels’ on notice that they could be replaced, if not outright killed by the people whom they were taking advantage of. Brothers, I might as well make it plain. One doesn’t have to look too far to spot a traitor or a rebel in one’s camp. Wholesale assassination is NOT going to solve the problem. But, showing that you won’t back up, nor give up in your new venture, will cause them to think twice before moving against you. Put another way: There are some folk you will have to inspire, some folk you will have to retire, and some folk you will have to fire--if you want to pay the cost of being the boss! FINAL PRINCIPLE: THANKING THOSE WHO HELPED! As the job was finished, the enemies were scattered, and the people were rallied, Nehemiah--first--gave thanks unto God. Next, he thank the people involved--including his former boss, the King, who had given him his start, motivation, and encouragement. The thrilling part of this Bible story is; Nehemiah went from being merely a butler or cupbearer in a powerful King’s administration, to being Governor of his homeland. No tricks, no coup attempts, no massive takeovers, no buyouts. He won the top spot by courage, planning, resourcefulness, hard work, and reliance on God--plus an understanding of people. He didn’t mistreat those who were on his side. In reality, he seized the moment to move up--and took his people WITH HIM! And there is plenty of room out here in the community for ANY man to do the same thing! My question is: Are YOU willing to pay the price? Brothers, we have marched, protested, boycotted, and ‘networked’. We have been studied, ‘buddied’, and ‘honeyed’. We’ve tried begging, pleading, and ‘seeding’, but still our numbers are low in terms of business creation and ownership. Why not follow the biblical prescription? It worked for Nehemiah. It worked for David. It worked for Solomon. It can work for YOU. But--YOU have to be ready to move up! Mike Ramey is the author of “The Manhood Line”; a monthly, syndicated column written for men, from a biblical, business, and common-sense perspective. Comments always welcome. Email to: [email protected]. (C) 2002 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications International (7).