Last time the focus was on not losing heart. We continue this theme in facing the impossible. What feels a little impossible for you right now? An assumption is made that good leaders are sort of fearless. And great leaders make the impossible possible. In reality, even the best leaders have challenges they would rather avoid.
One such leader is found in the Old Testament — Zerubbabel. This Zerabbabel returned to the land of Israel with about 50,000 other exiles. Their land was over run and decimated. Lives and land needed to be restored. As governor, he was tasked with rebuilding the temple. This was no small task. There was the challenge of limited resources, low motivation, and little hope. He started, put down the foundation, and stopped. Seemingly impossible, he stopped the work for sixteen years. It is at this point God speaks timely and timeless words through the prophet Zechariah. In a few words we find great leadership lessons.
This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain; and he shall bring out the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it‘ (Zechariah 4:6-8).
Choose not to compare to others. When God declares it is “not by might, nor by power,” it gives insight into Zerubbabel’s concerns. The previous temple was built by King Solomon. Not only was he the wisest man on earth, he also had resources his father had gathered, skilled workers and craftsmen, and slave labor. Solomon did have might and power. Zerubbabel did not possess these things. He was not Solomon.
Know what you do possess. God says to Zerubbabel that he possesses something great. Yes, he was a leader with influence. He was governor over a directionless people. He was stewarded the opportunity to lead and to build the temple. But the task before him was too big for him. It was not going to be accomplished through sheer will, but in God’s strength. It was by His Spirit. This was God’s message for Zerubbabel. Of all the things God could tell him, He emphasized that it was by His Spirit that the impossible would be done — not by the best resources, the most trained people or in the lack of obstacles.
God then backs it up with a word picture. The picture is of a strong, immoveable great mountain. This is the picture God gives to Zerubbabel, the leader. The impossible is like a great mountain. God knows that. But God will make it like a plain through His Spirit. God makes the impossible possible. And we walk by faith.
Keep the dream. Dreams are beyond us. They place our hope in the future. Without dreams, people get discouraged, leaders get discouraged. And the leader of today faces the same type of obstacles as Zerubbabel — limited resources, low motivation, and little hope. Yet, God gave Zeruabbabel an incredible dream. God said He would return and dwell with them. God did dwell in the temple in the past, but He does not limit the future to just the temple. He would dwell in their midst again. In that dusty, barren, forsaken place with just the foundation of the temple to look at, that dream felt pretty impossible. In reference to this God says in Zechariah 8:6, “”Even though it seems impossible to the remnant of this people in these days, should it also seem impossible to me, says the Lord of hosts?” God is the keeper of the dream.
These are not just words for the past, but also for the present and the future. We do face the impossible. God knows. Leaders are stewards of the future. And His future for us is great.