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Nehemiah Part 4: Courage

Nehemiah Part 4: Courage

 

So far this year we’ve been talking about vision.

This morning I want to talk about one more thing it takes to move forward in your Vision: Courage. – Even after you have done all the pounding needed on clarifying your vision – there will come a moment when what you need most is Courage:  Courage to walk toward a difficult or impossible looking situation; Courage to take a risk.

Every significant vision the Lord births in you is going to put your courage to the test.

Let me say this another way, especially for younger leaders: There is no path with God which is void of Risk, or void of a head-on collisions with fear!

One of the greatest leaders in the Bible is Joshua. He is a 5 star military general.  Joshua follows a great leader Moses – and at Joshua’s commissioning ceremony this is what Moses says to him: “Be strong & courageous. You shall bring the people of Israel into the land.” 

After Moses passed away and just before Joshua enters the land, the Lord shows up and says to Joshua personally (three times in four verses) “I will never leave you, don’t be afraid but be strong & courageous.”  – Even Joshua dealt with fear and discouragement. He needed a divine push to go from 40 years in the desert into the Promised Land.

Every significant vision the Lord births in you is going to put your courage to the test.

Unfortunately, many of these God-designed Visions are silently aborted.  The risks seem too great. God, give that to someone else!

Nehemiah’s Courage

Let’s examine this moment of courage for Nehemiah (Chapter 2)

It’s been 4 months of prayer and planning for Nehemiah. He’s been looking for an opportunity to get involved in helping his disgraced people back in Jerusalem. Finally, that moment arrives:

Nehemiah 2:1 – “I had not been sad in the presence of the king before.” Why? Because it was illegal. In those days, no one who worked for the king could come into his presence while sad. Nehemiah risked being throw out!

Nehemiah 2:2 – “The King notices and asks Nehemiah, “What’s wrong…I see this sadness of heart?”  Nehemiah’s thought, “Then I was very much afraid!” — Nehemiah is VIBRATING with FEAR Why? Because this could be explosive. He is risking everything on how he responds.

This is the Abort or Launch moment. Nehemiah can back out now and no one will know. He can silently abort God’s vision.  This happens all the time.

Nehemiah 2:3 – Here’s a huge step. Nehemiah spills out the pain in his heart.

I want to suggest (I can’t be certain) that Nehemiah couldn’t have done this 4 months ago. I believe it took 4 months of Prayer, Fasting, and Journaling to clarify his pain and get a vision of how he should act.

This is similar to David in 1 Samuel 17:

Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.” David replied: “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this Philistine will be like one of them….The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.

Courage is a muscle which you can build over time. God had built Nehemiah’s courage muscle so that he was able to step forward when his moment arrived.   

I love the NIV here: “I was very much afraid…BUT…” — But my faith was bigger than my fear. I got to the point that my faith was bigger than my fear. This is a muscle you can build over time, but you have to respond to the small steps God is directing you and not abort the vision because of fear!

Nehemiah 2:4 is a huge question, “What are you requesting?” Again, this is not a question Nehemiah could have answered 4 months ago, but now he is ready and willing to risk. Nehemiah takes a risk by asking for 3 things he asked for in rapid succession:

  • I need Freedom – King, I going to need some time off working for you so I can go help someone else.
  • I need your Favor – I need travel documents with your signature which will allow me to travel safely between here and Jerusalem 
  • I need part of your Fortune – I need several loads of lumber from your lumber yard so I can rebuild the wall and build a house I plan to live in.

I am wondering what the others in the King’s presence must have thought. Nehemiah has been smoking something….He’s not even supposed to be sad and now he is asking the King for all this…he’s going to prison for sure!

This is a vision Nehemiah is willing to put everything on the line… incredible Courage! Nehemiah risks his job, Nehemiah risks his influence with the king, Nehemiah risks his life…..The King could have easily had Nehemiah imprisoned….

(vs. 8) – One more important detail we don’t want to read past too quickly. “And the king granted me what I asked, for…”

For what?

  • For, I was courageous and brave?
  • For, I had a great plan?
  • For, I am smart?
  • For, I took the Dale Carnegie course on how to Win Friend and Influence People – so I was successful?

No, For, the good hand of my God was upon me.

Nehemiah wasn’t just courageous. He also knew where the credit belonged; To God alone!  This is the kind of character God is looking for to fulfill His visions.

God’s favor flows toward those whose faith is bigger than their fear and who will give God the Glory when God responds.

Questions:

1.  How do you react when you are vibrating with fear?  What are the risks you are most afraid to take: Failure, Reputation, Finances, Safety?

2.  Have you ever silently aborted something you felt like God was asking you to do?  Why?

3.  How would you recommend someone exercising their “courage muscle?”  How does your faith become greater than your fear?

4.  Do you have the habit of taking the glory for success or giving God the glory? How does that look in your life?


Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips

Pastor, Christ Community Church
www.ironleader.org
paul@cccwnc.com

“The 4 C’s of Nehemiah’s Leadership” – Leadership Lesson

“The 4 C’s of Nehemiah’s Leadership” – Leadership Lesson

This year we have been traveling through the Bible looking at different leaders. From Adam to Abraham, Moses to King David. The Kingdom was split in two and eventually Israel was taken into exile. -During our last time together, Spence talked about Daniel, a young man who put God first. For our last Old Testament leader, we will look at Nehemiah.

Like Daniel, Nehemiah was in exile. Hserved the King of Babylon. Nehemiah was called by God to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem. He lived around 400 BC, so this was one of the last books of the Old Testament.

Nehemiah is one of my favorite character studies and was an exceptional leader. One reason Nehemiah is accessible as a leader is because there are no overt miracles; no parting of the Red Sea, no visit by an angel, Nehemiah never walks on water. Instead, Nehemiah was a man who had a passion, who worked hard, prayed, encountered criticism and made difficult leadership decisions.

Nehemiah was a regular guy who caught a divine glimpse of what could and should be. Then, he went after it with all his heart. His story is not much different than ours.

4 Key Leadership Components of Nehemiah

1. Concern/Passion: (1:2-4)

Effective leadership begins with an internal concern, some kind of passion to move forward. Nehemiah was so emotionally moved by the report about the condition of his city and his people that he mourned, fasted, and prayed for 4 months.

Passion is the catalyst which catapults you out of passive concern and into action.  Vision begins with a dissatisfaction of what could and should be.

For Passion to have staying power and not just be a desire/dream requires action: 2 specific actions from Nehemiah.

  • First, is prayer. Nehemiah fasted and prayed for 4 months – wrestling with God with his passions.
  • Second, is planning. When the king asks Nehemiah, “What are you requesting,” Nehemiah immediately rips off a list of things he needs.

If God (the King of Kings) asked you, “What are you requesting?” how you would respond? What’s your passion? Have you prayed about it and planned for it?

If you read his response, Nehemiah doesn’t ask for a miracle. (God, you go do something). Nehemiah asks for an opportunity to go build the wall himself!

“Dreamers dream about things being different, leaders envision themselves making a difference. Dreamers think about how nice it would be for something to be done, leaders look for an opportunity to do something.”

Andy Stanley

2. Clarity (2:17)

I love this simplicity. The problem: “We are in trouble and a disgrace. The city is in ruins.” The solution: “Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem”. All good visions should be simple enough to communicate in a sentence or two.

3. Community (Chapter 3)

This is one of the most import chapters in Nehemiah. I counted more than 40 individual names, and more than 10 groups’ names. If you read Chapter 3 in its entirety you will notice one name missing, Nehemiah’s! Chapter 3 is when we really find out Nehemiah is a leader.

“A leader is great, not because of his power but because of his ability to empower others.”

John Maxwell

Nehemiah empowers hundreds of people to rebuild the wall. That’s real leadership!

The currency every great team uses is TRUST. Each member has to trust that the other person on their team will do their part. They must “build their own part of the wall.” A team with not much trust, is dysfunctional.

In this year’s NCAA tournament, how many were screaming for the ball to be in Justin Jacksons hands? After all, he is the ACC Player of the Year. Imagine the trust it must take (which has to be built over time) to hand the ball to a former Walk-On to take the game winning shot!

4. Conflict (4:1-4 & 8)

As soon as they begin building the wall, they encounter conflict. Every worthwhile endeavor will experience conflict. Many times it will be right at the very beginning and you may be easily discouraged.

I have a beautifully hand written letter in my office dated February 2002 – one month before we began CCC. It says, “I feel strongly in my spirit that it’s not God’s Will” for us to start our church.

Much of your leadership success will be based on your skill for navigating conflict and discouragement. Discouragement for your passion can come in many different forms.

Questions

  1. Concern: What concern do you have that catapults you out of passive concern and into action? Do you dream about things being different or do you envision yourself making a difference?
  2. Clarity: What are you about? (yourself, business, church, family….) Is is clear? Could you state it in a sentence or two?
  3. Community: In your leadership do you empower others or are you a Lone Ranger? Can you put the outcome in the hands of someone else?
  4. Conflict: How do you deal with conflict and discouragement?

 

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture

 

 

 

Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church
www.ironleader.org
paul@cccwnc.com