“I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to
me. They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.’ So they began this good work.” Nehemiah 2:18
The stage for Nehemiah is set in 445 BC, where we find him in the comfortable and wealthy
position as cupbearer for King Artaxerxes, the king of Persia. But Nehemiah has been given a new mission by God….take your leadership skills, go back to your homeland in Jerusalem, lead the exiles, rebuild the walls, and restore your people. When I read through how Nehemiah approached and accomplished his rebuilding mission, it is striking how applicable it is to our lives as men. We are all rebuilding as men – some rebuilding marriages, some rebuilding life after failed marriages, some rebuilding careers, some rebuilding faith, some rebuilding family or relationships with children, some rebuilding character, some rebuilding a life without destructive habits. What can we learn from Nehemiah?
Rebuilding starts with prayer and continues with prayer. Seven times in Nehemiah we find him in prayer: from the planning phases, before and during critical conversations for support, through opposition and threats, and while reflecting on how to sustain the rebuilding changes. I learned in the military the approach that “prior planning prevents piss poor performance” – I have now learned to substitute the word “prayer” for planning…..”prior prayer prevents piss poor performance.” Whenever I rebuild based on a plan without prayer, the walls don’t get Finished.
Rebuilding takes observation to really see what is wrong. Nehemiah went out and surveyed the full extent of the damage to his walls and his people prior to just jumping in and starting his mission. He took the effort to see it with his own eyes, not acting on reports or hearse from others. Sometimes the observation will be external circumstances like crumbling walls or crumbling relationships. Sometimes the observation will be internal like the thoughts that become words, actions, habits and character. You may be familiar with the concept of the OODA loop for decision making: Observe – Orient – Decide – Act. The Decide and Act phase of the loop will be incorrectly anchored if you do not Observe and Orient first.
Rebuilding takes support – Nehemiah did not go at this alone. He secured resources, supplies and army officers and cavalry from the Persian King, as well as rite of passage to Jerusalem. He also worked hand in hand with Ezra, the high priest and scribe to lead the people physically and spiritually. In my experience, rebuilding alone results in easy prey and defeat at the hands of our enemy. Have someone ahead of you pulling you up, someone beside you holding you up, and someone behind you pushing you up. And then be that someone to another man.
Rebuilding takes commitment from everyone involved – all of the Jewish exiles contributed, the high priests worked on the wall, and even the ruler of a half district of Jerusalem had his
daughters helping him re-build. As men, we cannot successfully re-build the crumbling pieces of our lives, especially our relationships without the commitment of those in the relationships.
This will probably not come as quickly and fervently as the Jewish commitment to build the wall which leads us to tomorrow…..
Daily Battle order:
- Define where God is calling you to Rebuild
- Start with prayer on the specifics of that rebuilding mission
- Observe and Orient the situation before you Decide to Act
- Gather your support team and resources, and commitment for the journey