Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the leaders and the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your friends, your families, and your homes!” - Nehemiah 4:14
More jobs get started than get finished. More projects are conceived than are completed. Initial enthusiasm gets drained, capital gets exhausted, energy gets dissipated. Unforeseen obstacles rear ugly heads, unanticipated problems loom large, unwelcome factors prevail. People get tired, bored, disgruntled, disappointed, dishonest, angry, envious, jealous, fractious, competitive, combative. Projects die on drawing boards. “I quit” becomes a mantra.
All of that could have been Nehemiah’s experience. If ever there was a project designed to discourage its workers and deplete its resources, Nehemiah’s rebuilding project was it! Poor pay, long hours, constant problems, dangerous working conditions, understaffing, shortage of materials, a nonexistent benefits package, limited supervision, little job satisfaction—you name it, it was all there. But somehow Nehemiah got the job done. How did he do it? Nehemiah only succeeded because God empowered him and protected him. He continually relied on God for help and strength, and he was not disappointed (4:4-5, 9, 14-15, 20).
Nehemiah also instilled in his workforce a concern for the well-being of the community. The project in which they were involved was significant because it served more than personal interests. More than pay and perks, Nehemiah focused his workers’ attention on the well-being of those for whom they were responsible—their families and their homes (4:14). They should work hard to provide for and protect those whose care was their concern.
In addition to these motives, there was a higher vision, a nobler goal. “Remember God,” Nehemiah said. He knew that the rebuilding project ultimately served God. He knew that rebuilding the city would fulfill the divine objective. So he and his workers were enrolled together in providing the sweat and muscle that would result in God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven.
Workers whose focus is narrowly self-centered struggle when conditions are less than ideal and quickly jump ship if they can improve their own situation and get what they imagine to be their just desserts! But men and women inspired with a cause that transcends purely personal preference endure more and are satisfied with less. They finish the job they are given, because they know that doing the will of God and providing for the needs of others gilds the mundane realities of work with a glory that makes it all worthwhile.
For Further Study: Nehemiah 4:1-23
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