17 March 2015

Vision building with Nehemiah

Every great company has a Vision. It’s what drives them. It’s what gives them the purpose of their existence. People have Visions for their lives. It’s what makes them go forward, trying to achieve something. 
Salomon says: “Without a Vision, people run wild.” (Prov 29:18 HCSB) 

Do you have a Vision for your life? Do you know what God wants of you? How do you develop a Vision? Is it just to follow someone with a great, godly vision?

Let me introduce you to Nehemiah, a character from the Bible in the Old Testament times. Nehemiah never received this “dream from God” or the famous “letter from heaven” that everyone is looking for. Still he could say with firmness and clarity: “The God of heaven is the one who will grant us success.” (Neh 2:20) and it was after all "what God had put on his heart" (Neh 2:12)

What had happened? What makes Nehemiah so sure about his Mission? And what can we learn from the way Nehemiah developed his Vision and Mission for this reconstruction of the city of Jerusalem?
(We are going to look specifically at Nehemiah 1 & 2.)

1. A need presents itself, that was unknown to Nehemiah until now

One day, Nehemiah’s brother comes with the news from Jerusalem, that the city was still in ruins. The city gates were burned and the walls were still down. Enemies came in frequently to plunder and make fun of the inhabitants. Up until this point Nehemiah did not even know about this problem, so it was not an urgent need, that he felt needed to be addressed. At least not by Nehemiah.  

What need presents itself to you, in your surrounding? What are YOU made aware of?

2. God puts a burning desire into Nehemiah's heart for this need 

Surely, many other Jews in Babylonia, where Nehemiah lived at that time, had heard about the burned gates and destroyed walls. But somehow it only touched Nehemiah in such a way that it actually made him cry. And the worst part was that he couldn’t do a thing about it. He was only the cupbearer of the king - probably a slave or servant - and could not just run off, to do something about the problem. Yet, Nehemiah was deeply concerned about this.

Does God put something on your heart that deeply concerns you? Is there some situation, you can’t get out of your mind? A situation that needs to be addressed?

3. In prayer, fasting and over time, Nehemiah develops a clear idea of what needs to be done

Nehemiah does not find peace about this one. He prays. He fasts. He thinks about it. And he brings the situation before God. In the four months between the time the news gets to him, until he has his conversation with the king, he is in constant contact with God. What would he do, if he could, as he would like to? What if the King would favor him and let him do the job? 

If God put something on your heart, evaluate the situation. What would you do about it, if you could, like you wanted to?

4. Nehemiah evaluates the different obstacles and steps 

When it is time to talk with the king, Nehemiah has it all planed out. He knew, he would need letters from the king, protecting him on his journey and from adversaries. He knew, he needed wood for the reconstruction of the gates. He knew how long it would take to rebuild the city. And he was ready to tell the king all these details. Nehemiah had done his job evaluating the situation. At least from were he was right now he knew, what needed to be done. 

Develop a plan of action! Write it down and talk it over with God! 

5. Nehemiah thinks about the changes the new vision will involve

Up until now Nehemiah was still that cupbearer of the king. This was about to change. Nehemiah was about to start a new job. And he was willing and ready to take this step. He knew that this was, what God wanted him to do. And he was willing to step up to the challenge. I mean, it is quite something to be first a slave or servant to the king and all of a sudden the architect of a mayor construction. Not to mention that he later became the governor of the city (Neh 8:9). 

Does this new Vision of yours require a new job, some training or a totally new direction? Step up to the challenge and redirect your life, to fit it to Gods plan for your life.

6. Nehemiah evaluates the situation well, so he can form a clear vision

Once he got to Jerusalem, Nehemiah takes his time to evaluate the situation well. Up until now, all he knew about the problem was, from what he had heard from his brother. Now it was time to look at the project up close. What would need to be done exactly? What would be the first step? What could be further obstacles to overcome? He knew that these action steps were necessary to be able to communicate his intentions well. He also knew that he had to plan the construction well, so he could direct it well. 

"A vision without actions is merely a dream." Ever vision needs action steps and these need to be planed well. Set SMART goals! Think about the unexpected! Think about the big goal and plan minor steps to reach that goal! Only then will you succeed with whatever your Vision is. 

7. Nehemiah presents the vision to the people involved  

Now Nehemiah was ready to communicate his plan to the people involved. Noble men, common folks, officials and workers - everyone needed to be included. Nehemiah took the time to explain his purpose. He even told them that it was a shame that Jerusalem was like this and they hadn't done a thing about it. That must have hurt. But this didn’t matter now. The king had given his blessing, God was clearly leading this whole thing, and now it was time to ask if they where in. And their simple response was: “Let’t get to it!” (Neh 2:18)

It is one thing to have a clear Vision and the ambition to follow through with it. It is another thing to get people involved. Are there people, family members or others, effected by the change you are about to make in your life? Are there people who need to be invited? Is there someone you need to inform, for the peace and wellbeing of relationships? Do this! It is your responsibility. 

And now, let the work begin. 

Oh, by the way. It might not be that you will have to rebuild an entire city. 
But I am sure that God has a plan for your life. There might be this one situation, that one ministry or that one thing, where you know that God wants you to get involved in or even lead it. Be open to what God has in mind for you. And when the situation presents itself, start making the changes necessary to be able to follow Gods lead. 

And remember, it was not just Nehemiah who had the Vision. After he had presented it to the people in Jerusalem, it became their Visions also.