The following audio clip begins with the testimony of Brandon Hart and continues with the leadership lesson.
Nehemiah 2:9 represents a transition. Nehemiah has been emotionally moved by a report about the condition of his people back in Jerusalem. He has caught a vision of what could and should be. He has prayed, fasted and planned. He has courageously stepped forward to personally get involved and risked quite a bit with his requests of the King (Nehemiah 2:1-8). Now, Nehemiah goes to work!
It’s always been fascinating to me to think about this book and what God chooses to remember. One of the most important & powerful people in the world in 450BC was King Artaxerxes, yet what God chooses to highlight, what’s valuable in God’s economy and his history is a slave and cupbearer to the King. He has travelled 500+ miles from Babylon back to Jerusalem to become the lead engineer and foreman on a building project.
Now before we get to the particular challenges Nehemiah faces, I want to talk about our view of work & the need for a Biblical View of Work
The Need for a Biblical View of Work:
Doug Sherman, a Fighter Pilot wrote a book titled: Your Work Matters to God. Sherman says, “When the chaplain entered the flight room the atmosphere changed….he seemed out of place. His issues and interests seemed distant from ours. He had a different set of heroes – usually people who left the military and became ministers or missionaries. When he left I felt a chasm between faith and work. I often asked myself whether flying a jet mattered to God?
“If 60% or more of your life (work) doesn’t count to God, then you don’t count to God. If your work has no value, then you have no value. At best you become a second-class citizen in the Kingdom of God.”
Have you ever wondered whether your work matter to God?
Perhaps one of these questions expresses your thoughts:
- I’m not sure my work has lasting value. Does ___ (flying/ you fill in) matter to God?
- I live two lives: Work & Home, Work & Church, Secular & Sacred – when I go through my work day….I don’t routinely think about God…He doesn’t fit into my business world.
- I maintain 2 ethical value systems: A work system & private system, they are not always the same.
- I’m bored. So my work seems purposeless.
How do you view your work?
3 Wrong or Incomplete Views of Work
1. Secular View
In this view, the primary purpose of work is self-fulfillment. Success in life means success at work. Career is center stage. Key words: Winning, Advancing, Achievement……Significance:
Sign-ificance: My work is a sign….which points to something – What is that something? (You, God, Something Else???)
Frequent thoughts of this view: Do others think I am a success? Do I think I am a success? Are people are getting ahead of me. I categorize the importance of people by their work.
What are the weaknesses of a secular view of work?
2. Two-Storied View – Secular vs. Sacred
A common missionary story: “I once was a businessman and a churchman. I heard a sermon about doing things which had eternal value, which was something with the word of God & the souls of men.
I read Jesus’ words in John 6:27 – “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life..” So I quit my secular work for sacred work.
The Two-Storied View distinguishes between Secular & Sacred. Work that matters to God and has eternal value & work that doesn’t have eternal value doesn’t really matter.
Frequent thoughts of this view: “I run a successful business in order to make money so I can support God’s work, in my church, in my city or around the world.”
In the classic film, Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell was the son of Scottish missionaries to China. He was known as “the Flying Scotsman.” God made him fast. In 1924 he won an Olympic gold medal and set a new world record.
In this clip, Liddell is late for duties at church because of his training. You see the Two-Storied view from Eric Liddell’s sister. To her, there is the sacred (mission work to China), and the secular (Racing – something that, to her, seems worthless or worse – it preoccupies his time with things of temporary value). But Liddell has a different view: God made him fast…. and simply doing what God made him good at – brought God pleasure.
Is it possible that God designed you with particular skills, working skills – that when used brings God’s pleasure?
What are the weaknesses of a two storied view?
3. Work as a Pulpit
This view sees Christian participation in work is primarily to set-up strategic opportunities for the purposes of evangelism. Text: Matt 28 and the Great Commission: “Go into all the world…..” OK – got it, my mission field is the Business World. My work is a tool for evangelism. You might redefine your job description so that you are no longer a doctor, teacher or salesman. Rather you are an evangelist in the field of medicine, education or marketing.
What are the weakness of the Work as a Pulpit View?
1. What are the weakness of each wrong or incomplete view of work?
- Secular View
- Two-Storied View
- Work as a Pulpit
To what extent have you bought into them?
2. Is it possible that God designed you with particular skills, working skills – that when used brings God’s pleasure?
3. “If 60% or more of your life (work) doesn’t count to God, then you don’t count to God. If your work has no value, then you have no value. At best you become a second-class citizen in the Kingdom of God.”
Do you think your work matters to God? Why?
Friends and Brothers,