After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them.”
–Nehemiah 4:14 (NIV)
How do you handle discouragement? In Nehemiah 4, we have already seen three causes of discouragement. It can come from being weary, it can come from wondering, and it can come from worry. But beginning in verse 13, we see the three cures for discouragement. Number one, when you feel overwhelmed by discouragement, it may mean you need to reassess your efforts. I know this sounds contradictory to what I have said the last few weeks–that a true leader is somebody who keeps moving forward in spite of the obstacles that he faces. Yes, persistence is a valuable characteristic if you are going to fulfill your dream. But sometimes when we face an insurmountable obstacle, we need to pause for a moment and reassess the situation: Is this really the right goal? Even if it is the right goal, do we need to have a change in strategy? That is wisdom. The test of a really gifted leader is his ability to assess changing situations and to adapt his strategy accordingly. That is exactly what Nehemiah did when he saw that his people were overwhelmed. Look at verses 13-14. “Then I stationed men in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, the exposed places, and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears and bows. When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of them . . .”
Notice the two actions Nehemiah took. First of all, he reflected. Verse 14 says, “When I saw their fear.” The NIV says, “After I looked things over.” He did not just keep plowing ahead. There was such a monumental change in the environment that he said, “I better stop here and evaluate what is going on.” Maybe there is a ministry that your church has been engaged in for a long time, but recently that ministry has begun to decline. Fewer and fewer people are involved in it. You need to stop and assess the situation. Maybe you need to redouble your efforts and keep that ministry going, or maybe you need to change. There is a great saying: “When the horse is dead, dismount.” A wise leader will take time to reflect on a changing situation.
Not only did Nehemiah reflect, but he also regrouped after his reflection. Verse 13 says that Nehemiah posted guards on the most vulnerable places on the wall. Not only that, he instituted a new work schedule where half the people would work, and the other half would stand guard (v. 16). Not only that, he had trumpets stationed around the wall, and he said to the people, “At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there” (v. 20). We do not know if Nehemiah really thought invasion was likely, but he knew the people did, so he changed his strategy. If you are going to successfully battle discouragement when you face an obstacle, you need to be honest and reassess the situation. Do you need a new strategy?
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Battling The Blahs” 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. Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.