I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me.
Whatever you are trying to lead people to do, there is a time when you have to announce it. Nehemiah did this masterfully. His announcement was insightful and inclusive, but it was also inspirational.
To inspire people, you have to frame your project in terms of a higher motivation. Let me explain what I mean. If you are a parent, I bet you have had this experience: You are on a long trip in the car, and the kids are screaming at the top of their lungs. You say, “If you will just be quiet for 30 minutes, we will pull into the golden arches.” You are trying to motivate them by appealing to a need that they feel. That is fine for children, but the older you get, the higher the motivation that is needed to make a higher commitment. In order for your project to really inspire people, you have to appeal to a higher motivation. That is what Nehemiah did. In chapter 2 verse 17 he said, “Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.” He did not say, “Come, let’s rebuild this wall so that our families can be more secure.” Yes, security was a definite benefit of this building project, but that is not what Nehemiah focused on. That word “reproach” means “laughingstock.” Nehemiah was saying, “Let’s get this thing built so that our God is no longer a laughingstock among the pagans.” Whatever your God-given project is, it is not for your comfort or your glory–it is for the glory of God. Beyond the “What’s in it for me?” question is “What’s in it for God and His kingdom?” You have to appeal to a higher motivation.
You also have to appeal to a higher power. If you are going to inspire people, they have got to know that God is supernaturally working in this project. In verse 18, Nehemiah said, “I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me.” You know what Nehemiah did? He shared with the people how God had stirred in his own heart to build this project. Then he told them how King Artaxerxes’s heart was supernaturally changed to give Nehemiah a leave of absence to go back and rebuild this wall. He was saying to the Jews, “This is not my idea–this is what God is doing.” Nehemiah shared how God was at work, and how did the people respond? “They said, ‘Let us arise and build.’ So they put their hands to the good work” (v. 18). That phrase “good work” in Hebrew does not mean “a worthwhile effort.” It means “a holy work.” That wall around Jerusalem was not just about the brick and the mortar–it was a holy work, a God-ordained work. And the people were inspired to be a part of that work.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Art Of Getting Things Done” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.