Have you ever noticed how we’re always waiting for the perfect time to get started?
Guess what?! The perfect time never arrives. Seriously, if you’re going to do anything with your life, you should get started today.
Recently, I’ve found great inspiration from an Old Testament leader by the name of Nehemiah. He’s a great example of leadership that accomplished great victory despite less than ideal circumstances.
The setting of Nehemiah’s leadership takes place just after Israel’s freedom has been declared by King Cyrus of the great Persian Empire. For 70 years, God’s people had been in Babylonian captivity. But now, most of them had returned to their homeland and began to rebuild their lives. Jerusalem’s wall had not been rebuilt, and that left them highly vulnerable.
For brevity’s sake, I’ll leave the historical side for your own reading and research. Yet, I will add this. Their vulnerability led to a sad state of affairs which meant the wall was not the only thing that needed rebuilding. The people of God also needed restoration.
Nehemiah’s leadership points to three great lessons that inspire God’s people.
We must learn the power of partnership.
Nehemiah didn’t act alone. He pursued God in prayer. His burden in prayer led him to be inquired by King Artaxerxes. With the partnership of God, his prayers were answered. And then with the partnership of his employer, his vision was 100% resourced.
The next level of leadership required was the local leadership in Jerusalem. With prayerful planning on his side, the leadership readily received Nehemiah. Then the people at large heard his plan. They joined with this declaration of faith, “Let us rise up and build” (Nehemiah 2:18).
It’s important to take note that the rallying cry begins with, “Let us.” You need God and others on your side if you’re going to build anything worthwhile. However, when two or more gather their resources and energies towards a God-given goal, all things are possible!
We can soar with the power of rising up.
God wants us to continuously rise up. Up is the pattern of Scripture. It also describes the trendline of our lives from salvation to glorification. But in between our earthly and soon-to-come heavenly existence, we are being called to rise up.
Zig Ziglar used to talk about his boyhood in Yazoo City, Mississippi. He lived next door to some rich folks. He knew they were rich because they not only had a cook, but the cook had something to cook. In the 1930s, that was a sure sign of wealth. He was there for lunch one day, as he tried to be most every day. On this day, the cook brought out a pan of biscuits. Since they were no thicker than a silver dollar, he asked, “what happened to those biscuits?” She reared back, laughed, and said, “Well, those biscuits squatted to rise, but they just got cooked in the squat.”
I’ve seen many people get “cooked in the squat.” They plan to do something just as soon as the time feels right. Avoiding all risk, they squat while life passes them by. But that’s not you! Even now, you’re hearing the call of God to, “Let us rise up!”
Don’t let your uncertainties hold you down! You can choose to feed your faith and starve your unbelief. Then you can invoke the power of rising up.
Invoking the power of partnership, we rise up. Now we are ready for the power of building.
Perilous times have paralyzed God’s people for too long. Fear blurred our vision and tried to make us reactive instead of proactive. But we refuse that fear. We are becoming who the Holy Spirit described in Daniel 11:32: “the people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits” (b).
The lesson of building requires some knowledge of these three principles. “Let us rise up and build!“
We must build for God’s glory. That’s so obvious throughout God’s Word for God’s people.
We must accept that building takes time. Nehemiah understood the need for the right plans, cost, and foundation. Anything built to last must have this timely trio in that order.
And we must build to finish. Nehemiah’s most outstanding leadership quality was stick-ability. He was divinely glued to His call to God’s people. The initial wall building was finished in 52 days. But he continued for 12 more years as governor of his people. He was personally invested in finishing what God gave him to start. His blood, sweat, and tears helped lead the people of God to higher ground.
We must not forget the need for perseverance. We pace ourselves with endurance as we build for God because it’s not a marathon. It’s a sprint. Building to finish will, at times, mean self-sacrifice and inconvenience.
Nehemiah was in it to finish. When you know you’re where you’re supposed to be and doing what you’re called to do, you keep building. Until and unless you are absolutely sure God has released you, you stay at your post. God’s sufficient grace gives you stick-ability to stay finish-focused.
Together is how we are called to build. Together, we build our lives. Together, we build our local church. And together, we build the Kingdom of God.