A self-governing people must be eternally vigilant. The first three words of our Constitution make it clear who is supposed to be in charge: “We the people.” Without the citizens taking an active and engaged role in civic life, the notion of self-governance collapses.

The Israelites had grown tired of having God as their king and being responsible for living under His law. So after demanding a king like everyone else around them had, the Israelites quickly found the rule of man didn’t work out so well either.  The people of Israel saw their self-governing nation change for the worse – just as they had been warned.

After a period of foreign captivity and exile, God called His people back to Israel and a man named Nehemiah was tasked with rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

There were any number of enemies who wanted to thwart the return of the Jews, and so in Nehemiah 4:9, we’re told that the people “prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.” Everyone prayed, everyone worked, everyone guarded the work. Everyone was responsible.

Too many of us today have forgotten that simple lesson.

If this nation conceived in liberty will long endure, it will only be because we – the people – are wholly committed to being self-governing leaders actively engaged in the hard, exhausting work of practical governance, of praying for each other and countrymen, and of being actively prepared to defend our land. It is our duty, not someone else’s.

We err when we allow ourselves to believe we can delegate the preservation of our republic, or even the safety of our family and friends, to someone else.

Rather, we must joyfully embrace the awesome responsibility of self-governance, so that we and our children can enjoy the fruits of Liberty. So let’s pray, stay at guard, and get to work!