In one of John Maxwell’s books on leadership, there is a good story about one of the men at the Alamo. As you may remember, in 1835 a group of very committed Texas patriots made a stand against the Mexican soldiers at a small mission-turned fort in San Antonio. (When I visited it some years back, I was shocked at how small it was.)
There were 183 volunteers from a wide array of life defending that tiny fort. They were soldiers, farmers, and some noted frontiersmen like Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie. And their motto was “Victory or Death.”
From February through March, several thousand Mexican soldiers laid siege to the Alamo. The Texans were offered terms of surrender, but the settlers would not budge. After it was obvious that a battle was imminent, a young man was snuck out of the fort to try and bring back some reinforcements. His name was James Bonham. He made his way 95 miles to a little town named Goliad and sought help, but none was available.
He could have just ridden off…he had done his duty. There were no replacement troops to lead back to the fort. He could have just gone home. But his sense of responsibility was so high that he bravely made his way back to the Alamo. On March 6th, 1836, James Bonham stood side by side with his friends and died with them at the Alamo.
As I am sure you know, their deaths became a turning point in the war with Mexico. “Remember the Alamo” rang out all across Texas and just two months later, they won their independence.
We probably do not remember James Bonham, but we should. We live in a day and time when many of us relish our rights, rather than embrace our responsibilities… Remembering men like James Bonham or the Israelites who rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem would help us.
Consider the story found in the book of Nehemiah. In chapters 3-6 the ordinary citizens of Jerusalem went to work. The perfumers labored next to the gold smiths. Men and their sons worked alongside dads and their daughters. The naysayers tried so hard to discourage the people that they had to work with one hand and hold a weapon in the other. They slept near their section of the wall so they could guard it. And a mere 52 days later, the wall was finished because the people “had a mind to work”!
Responsibility is a much needed commodity in our world. We need to raise children who have a genuine work ethic. They need to be driven by excellence and a commitment to finish what they start. We need workers who will go the extra mile, not because over time is available, but because the job demands it. We must stop blaming anyone and everyone else for our lack of productivity.
We all need another dose of old fashion responsibility. There is a quote by Gilbert Arland that says, “When an archer misses the mark he turns and looks for the fault within himself.” In our world, too often, we blame the target.
So this week, focus on the words of Paul to the Corinthians (15:58): “Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord…”