Conquering the Apathy Monster
- Friday, October 13, 2000
Last week I invested three days in beautiful Montana speaking to a high school retreat of Flathead Valley Christian School.
While there I gave a talk that I thought contained principles you might want to know. It was called Conquering the Apathy Monster, based on Nehemiah.
Apathy comes from two Greek words, a meaning without and pathos meaning passion. We become apathetic when we stop living life to the full.
Nehemiah was told of the condition of the city wall of Jerusalem, that it was broken down and that the people lived in disgrace and fear.
As I understand it, the residents of Jerusalem had lived that way for 200 years! Their discouragement led to a near-permanent state of inaction.
Nehemiah approached the problem in five steps:
1. He became aware of the problem. He asked questions, and expressed interest in the plight of the people.
2. He did his homework. Nehemiah toured the city himself, so that he could be credibly informed about how bad conditions were, and so that he would not seem unduly optimistic when he proposed the solution.
3. He set fascinating goals. Nehemiah understood that people stuck in a rut need to reclaim their VISION as well as their MOTIVATION. He proposed rebuilding the wall in blitzkreig fashion, with everyone, men and women, rich and poor, pitching in.
4. He identified and counted on different levels of support. Nehemiahs goal seemed to be to encourage and build into the lives of his most enthusiastic followers, to ignore those who were lazy or opposed to the work, and to try to move everyone in the middle closer to effective action.
5. He persevered through opposition. Nehemiah experienced ridicule, trouble-makers, in-fighting and distractions. Yet because his goal was clearly defined, he refused to allow these trials to break his focus. Nehemiah refused to look to his opponents
for approval, since they would never respond positively, no matter how well he did.
As you seek to lead, these principles may help you conquer apathy and move people toward effective action. For more strategies, read the book of Nehemiah!
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