No Expert Builders Listed (Nehemiah 3:8,32)

No Expert Builders Listed (Nehemiah 3:8,32)

Have you ever felt under-qualified for a task? Like maybe somebody has got to do something, but you can’t do it because the task is bigger than you or requires more knowledge or training than you have? I can’t imagine what it would have been like had the disciples known up front how Jesus would transform their lives and send them to the utter most parts of the earth with His gospel. Each one would have probably rejected the idea out of hand. No way they could do that, but they could and they would. A little time with Jesus shapes us not into the person we think we are, but into the person he has always intended us to be. As the old saying goes, “He doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.”

Cover

Rebuilding the wall in Nehemiah’s day was no exception. What I love most about Nehemiah chapter three is that while we hear about all the folks who put their hand to rebuilding the wall we don’t hear about any that are qualified. We don’t read word’s like carpenter, stone mason, architect, expert builder, or even handy man. Instead we read things like, priest, perfumer, goldsmiths, and merchants. These are the qualified builders who rebuilt the wall! No expert builders are present! God uses all sorts of people!

You may feel like you are in over your head or are playing in a bigger league than you should. You may think, “I’m just a teenager” or “I just don’t have the gifting. What can I do anyway?” The beauty of taking on a God sized task like reaching your neighborhood, school, or city is that God does all the heavy lifting. He puts us in proximity to others whose hearts are stirred and creates movement. In the end it is His call that qualifies you and no matter how good your resume gets, the call will be the only credentials you ever really needed.

Rebuilding without Resources (Nehemiah 3)

Rebuilding without Resources (Nehemiah 3)

The situation in Nehemiah 3 is interesting. The word, “built” is used six times. It literally means “to rebuild” it reminds us that the material for building the wall was already there. The stones that had been taken down to weaken the wall still lay scattered across the base of the wall and the valley floor below. It’s not as though Nehemiah had to go and get new stones to rebuild the wall, they were already there.

Sometimes when we look at a situation like our neighborhoods and schools we might wonder what we could do with more resources, but the odds are the resources we need are already there. There is a neighbor who is willing to help, a teacher who will host a club in his or her room, a student from another church, a parent who wants to help, a youth pastor who is willing to work with a leadership team, a business owner who is willing to donate funds to help with a project. Don’t look at what’s not there, look at what is already all around you ready to be assimilated into a strong spiritual wall of protection.

Cover

The word “repaired” is mentioned 35 times. It means to “make strong or firm.” I think it is essential to note that the wall that Nehemiah and the folks of Jerusalem were rebuilding wasn’t a weak wall. It was a strong wall, made of quality materials that were put together in the right way.

It’s essential as you search out God’s plan for your school, neighborhood, or city that you seek Him on how to organize the resources you already have on hand. It’s not enough to recognize that you have different folks with different gifting, calling, and occupations. You must also find a way for everyone to work together in concert so that they are stronger together.

Where you are (Nehemiah 3:23, 28-30)

Where you are (Nehemiah 3:23, 28-30)

I’m burdened to see God move and work in my city, but I have to be honest, I walk through and pray for the people in my neighborhood more than any other neighborhood. The reason is simple, I live there! I have a personal interest in my neighbors and I have a personal interest in my neighborhood because I live there. I don’t mean to come across as less concerned for other neighborhoods, I care about them, but I don’t see them, or know the people inside them as well as my own. I have invested more in my neighborhood than the hundreds of others in my city. My prayer though is that there would be people like me in every neighborhood who would own their streets, meet their neighbors and be intentional with the gospel.

Cover

It was like that when it came to rebuilding the wall. The work assignments weren’t handed out alphabetically by last name, they were given according to where people lived. You rebuilt the section of the wall closest to your house. It was an ingenious plan. No one would care more about how well the wall was built than the folks it was designed to protect. No one wanted a weak wall by their house. If they needed something to make the wall sturdy, they were prone to go and ask for it and not settle for a good-enough patch work. If they lacked skill, they were more prone to ask about how to do something because they wanted their part of the wall to hold against enemy attack.

I think this lays out a great principle for us as we think about rebuilding the spiritual structures in our neighborhoods and schools. It makes sense for people to work where they have an investment in the outcome. It makes sense to begin in your neighborhood with your neighbors. It makes sense to begin with the basketball team if you play basketball, or the drama department, or the band, or whatever you do or whoever you hang out with, it makes sense to begin there. Use the hobbies, ambitions, classes, and locations that God has put you in and see how He might use you.

Twice the Work (Nehemiah 3:4-5,12,21,27)

Twice the Work (Nehemiah 3:4-5,12,21,27)

I’ve got a friend who works in the AC business. During the summer time he is extremely busy. It seems like someone somewhere is always having AC issues. He puts in long days grabs a bite to eat and then often heads back out on his own time to help a friend or a friend of a friend who can’t afford much, but needs someone to look at their AC. He works hard and often it costs him to help some of the people he does. He sees it as a ministry and he always has a cheerful attitude. He’s told me before, “God called you to be a pastor, he called me to this.” He is a hard worker and there are a ton of folks in our town who are thankful for him.

Cover

Throughout this list in Nehemiah 3 we come across some hard workers, folks who put their fair share of work into rebuilding the wall and then some. The Takoites we talked about yesterday worked on two sections of the wall even without the help of their nobles (3:5, 27). A fellow by the name Meremoth did the same (3:4, 21). Shallum also went out to repair the wall, but what is interesting is that his daughters came out with him and put their hands to work. This kind of work wasn’t something that was considered “women’s work” back in the day, but it was so important to Shallum and his daughters that they worked anyway.

What’s amazing is that even when people like the nobles of Takoites wouldn’t come and work, that others stood up and worked double. There will always be those who catch the vision and see it a little clearer than the rest. They will be hard workers and dedicated to any cause the Lord is in.

Not Every Leader Leads (Nehemiah 3:5)

Not Every Leader Leads (Nehemiah 3:5)

And next to them the Tekoites repaired, but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord.(Nehemiah 3:5 ESV)

No matter how good the system, some folks will not participate. Did you catch the stinging rebuke in those words? The nobles would not “stoop” to serve their Lord. You’re meant to chuckle with disdain when you hear that because everyone stoops before their Lord. When a person of higher rank such as a king walks in the room, everyone bows or in other words, they “stoop.” The nobles of the Tekoites have three real problems. 1. They don’t consider the wall their work. They are content to leave it in the hands of others. At a time when everyone, even priests and women are working on a wall these men are too good to add their hands to the labor. 2. This is severely disrespectful of Nehemiah and everyone else who is working on the wall. While others have humbled themselves, these men have exalted themselves. 3. Ultimately it isn’t manual labor or even Nehemiah’s leadership they reject, it is serving the Lord.

Cover

As you set your heart to effect real change where you are, understand that there will be some who should have a vested interest in what you are doing but won’t lend a hand at all. Like the nobles of the Tekoites they can’t be bothered to see what great thing God is doing and join Him. They leave others to the task and their hand will be noticeably absent.

Though the nobles wouldn’t work, the Tekoites did work. In fact, they worked doubly hard in the absence of their aristocracy. Not only did they finish the work on their assigned section, but they took on the work of another section as well (Nehemiah 3:27). When God is in the midst of a project there is always a way to get it done with the resources you have on hand.

When I talk with folk about getting a ministry started or a ministry outpost set up somewhere I warn them that it is always easy to find helpers when it is time for a harvest, but when the real labor of breaking ground and plowing the field is involved that no one wants to show up. The folks who do show up for the hard work of ground breaking are always the hardest workers. They see the vision. They know what’s down the road and are willing to work twice as hard to see fruit. The question you have to ask is who are you more like: the Tekoites or their nobles?

Leadership by Example (Nehemiah 3:1)

Leadership by Example (Nehemiah 3:1)

My dad had this rule growing up that he wouldn’t watch something on TV that we weren’t allowed to watch. It made it safe to watch TV in our house. I could wakeup at 10pm from a nightmare and run into the living-room without fear that there would be a different nightmare unfolding on TV. I took that for granted when I was a child, but realize that when my dad did something to intentionally put himself on my level for the sake of the family, he was leading by example. When I installed software and parental protections on my kids electronic devices I didn’t want them to see it as a punishment, but as a way of being diligent and so I installed the same stuff on all of our electronic devices. I wanted them to know that I wasn’t asking them to do something that I wasn’t also willing to do.

I think it’s great that when it comes to the record of how the wall was going to be rebuilt and strengthened that we find the high priest and the other priests mentioned first! They could have sat back and offered a prayer or thought of this kind of work as beneath them, but they chose instead to roll up their sleeves and not only build the wall, but lead the way in rebuilding the wall. This was leadership by example!

Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it and set its doors. They consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Tower of Hananel. (Nehemiah 3:1 ESV)

Cover

Far too often it is too easy to sit back and try and bark orders at folks. I remember one time I had a conversation with a young man about some frustration he had with his youth group. “They just aren’t telling others about Jesus like they are supposed to! It’s like they don’t even care!” He commented. Then I asked him, “Who did you tell about Jesus this week?” and he didn’t have an answer. That’s leadership from the rear and it’s not leadership it’s just whining and complaining about what other people should do. These priests didn’t have time to complain about who should fix the wall on their side of town because they were too busy fixing the wall themselves.

Too often in our churches and ministry organizations we hear people whine and complain rather than invest and lead. Imagine what your little corner of the world would look like if those who profess to be Christians were known for making a difference rather and lack of critical attitude. Take time today to evaluate your actions. Be sure your prayers for God to move don’t become complaints. Make sure you are ready to move as soon as God does.

Lead by example today! Don’t wait!