Leadership Principle #34: When facing a dominant threat, the most successful underdogs immediately stand up and offer fierce resistance, even if the next step is unknown. “This is what the LORD says: Though they are strong and numerous, they will still be mowed down, and he will pass away.” – Nahum 1:12a
Three generations after Jonah, Nineveh abandoned God and became the center of Assyria, the most powerful kingdom in the region.
The prophet Nahum arose during the peak of Assyria’s power and declared that Nineveh was about to be destroyed by God. Within 50 years, the city was indeed reduced to rubble and eventually disappeared under the windblown sands.
How did Nahum stand up to such a great power and encourage his countrymen to stand strong until their assured deliverance? How can we inspire our people to survive an irresistible force bent on our defeat?
Nahum calmed the nerves of his people by describing God as avenging, slow to anger and powerful beyond comprehension. He promised that God would pursue his foes.
The prophet himself displayed these qualities, fearlessly declaring victory for his people to the enemy’s face, patiently awaiting God’s judgment, and comforting the exiled Judahites.
How do modern leaders exude this kind of confidence during tough times? History gives us some examples.
In 1967, during the Six-day War, Israel fended off an Arab military coalition made up of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. With less than three million inhabitants, Israel launched a surprise attack on the allied armies. Nearly all of Israel’s 200 aircraft descended on the unsuspecting Egyptian Air force, destroying several hundred new Soviet-made jets and killing dozens of pilots. The victory gave Israel air superiority for the rest of the war.
More than 20 years earlier, Winston Churchill led tiny Britain against the Nazi Goliath. In 1941, Churchill convinced his people the day of evil would soon end: “Never give in, never give in…. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
In 1989, Chinese students, workers, teachers and soldiers staged anti-Communist protests near Tiananmen Square. Then the government rolled in the artillery. Hundreds of civilians were killed, including children. With a shopping bag in hand, a young Chinese man blocked the advance of 18 tanks. His defiance mesmerized millions around the world.
Is a superior force barreling down your street or laying siege to your stronghold? Adopt the character of God in the book of Nahum: Ruthless, wily and creative. A refuge for your fearful followers – a Churchill.
Tom Harper is president of Networld Media Group, a publisher of online trade journals and events for the banking, retail, restaurant and church leadership markets. He is the author of Leading from the Lions' Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible (B&H).