It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Nehemiah knew rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem was too big for him to accomplish by himself. So in addition to dividing the work, he assigned others to help do the work. First of all, he assigned people according to their interests. Look at Nehemiah 3:28-29: “The priests carried out repairs, each in front of his house. After them Zadok the son of Immer carried out repairs in front of his house.” Nehemiah was wise enough to know that to be motivated, people have to be appealed to on the basis of their own interests. After all, they would certainly be interested in that portion of the wall in front of their own house–they would not want their part of the wall to be shabby or weak. I think it is important to understand that one way God gives us direction is through our natural interests. Philippians 2:13 says, “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Many times God leads you through the desires He has placed in your heart. Nehemiah understood that, so he assigned people according to their interests. Second, he assigned people according to their giftedness. As you read through this chapter, you will notice a number of professions mentioned. There are the rulers, priests, craftsmen–the point is, everybody had a job on the wall, but not everyone had the same job. One way to know what God would have you do with your life is by your area of giftedness. Sometimes you have to do a job you do not want to do, just to earn the money to feed yourself and your family. But when you have found the work that God has designed you for, it will use your interests and your giftedness. That is how Nehemiah assigned people.
For any leader, another part of delegating responsibility is praising those who work hard. Look at verse 20: “Baruch the son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section.” That word “zealously” in Hebrew means “to burn” or “to glow.” You know what Nehemiah was doing? He was giving a shout-out to this guy named Baruch. Nehemiah understood that praise is a great source of motivation for people. Yes, people want to be paid, but they also want to be praised for what they do. Nehemiah motivated the workers that way. On the other hand, he ignored those who declined to work. Look at verse 5: “Moreover, next to him the Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles did not support the work of their masters.” The Tekoites were the residents of Tekoa, which was ten miles outside of Jerusalem. They traveled ten miles to do their work on the wall, but the leaders of that town refused to be a part. How did Nehemiah deal with their refusal? Did he leave his work to go beg and plead with them? Did he do a lot of introspection and say, “What is wrong with this project that these fellow believers would not want to come and be a part?” Did he criticize them and say, “They are going to hell because they are not helping me with this”? No, Nehemiah did not do any of that. Instead, he ignored them and kept moving forward in the work God had called him to do. If people decline to work on your project, move forward in a gracious, humble, and loving spirit, just like Nehemiah did.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “How To Eat An Elephant” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org