Rise Up with Muriel Gregory

John FarrellBy John Farrell11 Minutes

John Farrell: What inspired you to write Rise Up: Awaken the Leader in You?

Muriel Gregory: The inspiration came when I worked for this organization called Planting Roots. It’s an organization ran by military women for military women, and by that we mean both active duty and spouses. We based our theme on this verse in Nehemiah, “Rise up.” The inspiration came from that.

We’re going to do a study out of Nehemiah, and Nehemiah, as I was digging into it and studying it, is very relevant for today. We think it’s an old book of the Old Testament, but the theme in Nehemiah of rebuilding, especially this concept of rebuilding the wall to protect ourselves, is very relevant today. Rebuilding walls and rebuilding identity with people. So, the inspiration came from both the book of Nehemiah and what was going on in the world at the time, which was 2020, a year that goes down in history.

JF: The book is based on the book of Nehemiah from the Bible and there’s a focus of leadership within it. How did you marry that leadership viewpoint or perspective with the book of Nehemiah?

Muriel: Leadership is something in the military that we’re all very familiar with. It’s ingrained in our way of thinking. So, Nehemiah is one of those unknown fascinating leaders of the Old Testament, but an unsung hero of the Old Testament. What you notice in Nehemiah very early on is him seeing a need, which was rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, and understanding that he was the man to make that happen. His leadership is really based on his relationship with God, hearing the call, recognizing the call, getting into prayer, and then doing everything along the way to sustain that call.

There comes a call to rebuild the wall. So, he said, “Okay, I’m going to go rebuild the wall.” He goes and rebuilds the wall, faces all kinds of opposition, and we can relate to him. When you go and do God’s work, you’re going to have people that put hurdles in your way.

What’s interesting about Nehemiah is that we can relate to him and we can say, “Well, if Nehemiah can do it, then I can do it too.” The belief is that if you are a Christian, you have a call that God has put on you; therefore, you can be a leader and you can rise to the task and do whatever you see should be done.

You don’t need to be a David, you don’t need to be an Abraham, you can be a Nehemiah.

JF: If you were to extract an overall message from the book, is that the overall message that you want people to hear?

Muriel: Yes, that’s the overall message that we want people to take. So, in this concept, this image of building a wall, our tagline is “You have a place at the wall.” We all need to be at the wall. We all need to rebuild. We all have a call. We all need to rise up.

JF: Applying the story of Nehemiah and the wall to today’s world, what’s the best way that one can implement those lessons of Nehemiah and make an impact?

Muriel: I would say everything starts in prayer. Then recognizing the things when you watch the news, when you look at the things around you, what moves you? We all have different things that move us where we think, “Something needs to be done about that.” And I really strongly believe that it’s God saying, “You see the need. Go and step out and do something about it.”

There’s a lot of time that needs to be spent in prayer. Then trusting that if you have that calling, God will see you through that. You got the call, not the other way around. There are so many things in our society today that need rebuilding. So, when you’re thinking about the wall – talking about rebuilding – there are things that need to be rebuilt in our world, in our society, in our families. You talk about divorce in the view of a marriage; that needs to be rebuilt. You talk about racial differences; that needs to be rebuilt. Whatever moves you, whatever you see.

JF: What does leadership mean to you?

Muriel: To me leadership is being a disciple of Jesus. Jesus raised leaders. You had the 12 around Him, and He raised them to be leaders. He said, “You follow me so that I can teach you what to do.” And then the same concept. For me, leadership is that; it’s discipleship.

I’m following Jesus. I’m learning from Him and then I’m going to do what He did and I’m going to raise other leaders to go do what He did. Live the life of Jesus and spread the love of Jesus to raise other people to go and do the same because I cannot do it by myself. The whole world needs healing.

I can only influence the people around me. Leadership is really this concept of realizing that you have influence around the people that you are in contact with, more than, “I’m the leader and I’m in charge.” No, it’s more a concept of influence than it is a concept of, “I’m making all the decisions and I’m in charge of this situation.”

JF: It’s more of being a team player because a great leader is someone who realizes his or her own shortcomings and is able to delegate and say, “Hey, I know I’m not the best in this area, but I’m going to bring in the best person.”

Muriel: Exactly. And that’s what Nehemiah does. You see that in the book of Nehemiah. For example, he’s not a preacher so he brings Ezra to do the preaching because that’s not Nehemiah’s strength. That’s leadership.

JF: Of all the advice in your book, what is the biggest piece of advice most people struggle with today?

Muriel: I will tell you the one passage in the study that was very important for me was the concept of dealing with your past. I think a lot of people struggle with that for several reasons. One, they don’t want to deal with it because they don’t have a good past or they’re afraid to go there, but the healing power of God can only be applied if we bring that to Him.

I think our past, whether it’s our own past or society’s past, if we don’t open that and bring that to the table for healing, will hinder us from really continuing to move forward. I think a lot of people struggle with that. A lot of the depression, anxiety, and similar stuff has to do with not being willing to deal with that.

JF: Was there anything that you learned about yourself while writing the book?

Muriel: I think the revelation to me, as I was studying Nehemiah, was the depth of the story of Nehemiah. Not to discount those small books of the Bible. I think this revelation of the calling that can be put on us. What is your call?

For me, this revelation was like, “Well, maybe my call is just to do that to inspire somebody else.” At the end of the day everybody’s a leader and I need to be able to look around and recognize the other leaders around me so that I can empower them and raise them up to the task because I cannot do it by myself. I think maybe that was a revelation because I tend to be an introverted lone ranger. I’m just going to do it myself, and we were not meant to do it by ourselves. We are built for community and that’s so important. We need each other.

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