There have always been times of change within history – one empire taking control of another, new administrations of leadership in a nation and even new ideas and ideologies within the church. Change is something we can believe in, something that inspires us to move forward in our thinking and actions. Change is about building a better tomorrow and building something that can last for generations – impacting society for the Kingdom of God. Change will take place in our lives and ministries – we will either end up going along with it or we will be fighting it the whole way and get dragged along for the ride, ripping us to shreds in the process.
There is a story of a man named Nehemiah, who invoked change and created a team of people to carry out tomorrow in a new light – a working together. Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the King of Persia. His sole purpose in life was to make sure the food or drink given to the King was not poisoned in any way. One particular day in the Kings chambers, Nehemiah was downcast in his spirit. The immense weight and sorrow for the city of Jerusalem brought his countenance down in the presence of the King.
“… so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.’ ‘… the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire? …If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.’” – Nehemiah 2:2-5 (NIV)
1.) WORK GOES BETTER TOGETHER:
“…Jerusalem is truly in a mess! The gates have been torn down and burned, and everything is in ruins. We must rebuild the city wall so that we can again take pride in our city.’ Then I told them how kind God had been and what the king said. Immediately, they replied, ‘let’s start building now!’ So they got everything ready.” – Nehemiah 2:17-18 (CEV)
When we begin to place ourselves in a climate that is conducive for change, it will begin to take place. For many people, I know because I include myself in this, we tend to believe that we can do it by ourselves. The reality is, we can’t! If we try to do the work of the ministry alone, we will fail; we will not see the full potential that we can reach for the Kingdom of God.
Work always goes better when we work together.
In everything we do, we are to be working toward a common goal, vision. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (21st Century KJV). If we are not running with vision and a goal in our spirit, we will be just going in circles – doing nothing except the mundane. If we want our ministries to succeed we need to have a strong and sure vision to run with. Vision for ministry is to build and ignite a passion in people’s lives; a deep passion that reaches the very core of an individual’s life.
But we cannot do it alone. We need the help and support of those around us – our team to carry the vision God has given us. I’m a young adult pastor at Life Church Eden Prairie, MN, one thing I’ve told my leadership team is,“We’re in this thing together.”
Like Nehemiah’s team, they grabbed the vision and said, “Let’s put our hands to this good work.”
We see this in our lives all the time. I worked as a Delicatessen for Rainbow Foods in Chaska, MN. I didn’t do the work alone – if I did, it would be a very daunting task to complete. I had a team of people I was plugged in with and worked with for nearly 40 hrs a week. We had to run with the vision of the store to create an environment that the customer will have the best shopping experience – where the customer felt valued and cared for.
The church is not so different. When a new person walks into the building for the first time, they need to feel welcomed. At Life Church that is one of our goals – that each person would feel welcomed. The vision of Life Church is to, “Change lives… Change the world.” We cannot individually change the world, but we can change the world of one person. That’s what it’s all about – people!
It’s God’s heartbeat.
2.) BUILDING TOGETHER SIDE BY SIDE:
If we continue reading in Nehemiah chapter 3 we see the people working together side by side. How do we learn to work together, to work side by side? Everyone, no matter where they are in life, has personal agendas they’d like to see fulfilled. And there is nothing wrong with that, but we need to understand that we are not to be focusing on our own agendas; we are to be fulfilling the Great Commission – seeing people enter the Kingdom of God. For the leader, vision is to a ministry as water is to a lake. Without vision the ministries God has entrusted us with hold no weight, they can’t! People thrive on the vision of the leader.
President John F. Kennedy said it best, “There are risks and cost to a program of action, but they are far less then the long-range risks and cost of comfortable inaction.” In other words, we as leaders take most of the risk of the vision and the action to put vision into a reality. Nehemiah had the vision and because of his action the people followed. Vision gives us something bigger than ourselves to build upon. But it takes the courage of the leader to invoke the inspiration of the team – an inspiration to action!
Yet all this takes faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV). Faith in God and vision allows us to build something bigger than ourselves, cause isn’t that the goal, to leave something that is larger and much bigger and grander than we are? The mission that Jesus gave us is yet to be fulfilled, and if we sit down and do nothing while we watch our nation and the nations around us go to hell, that mission is not going to get fulfilled. The goal of us as leaders within the body of Christ is to see that happen – to see and bring as many into the Kingdom of God as possible. Matthew 28:18-20.But it starts with teamwork – we can’t do it alone.
It is in this we are going to see an atmosphere of change, accountability and growth within our lives and ministries. We are stronger if we work together. We are more focused if we work together and there are people who are willing to add their faith to our faith to see this good work completed.
3.) RUNNING THE RACE SET BEFORE US:
There is a race that we all have to run. God has given each of us our own race. We do not run or compete against anybody else. I heard John Bevere say once, “The only person we run against is ourselves…” So we really have no one else to blame for our failures. And even though we are running separate races, we are running together side by side. 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith…”
Our goal is not to just finish the race that is set before us, our goal is to build a life that will leave behind a strong legacy that will be looked at for generations to come. On my mother’s side of the family I am the third generation that has been in the ministry. My grandparents, great-grandparents, and great great-grandparents lived lives worthy of the Lord Jesus. That is the legacy that has been passed down to me.
When we begin to work together and build our teams to work with us for the kingdom of God, nothing will stop us! Look at it this way; if a group of people were to stand in a line, side by side holding hands and I ran into that group – the chain would break. Now take the same group standing in a line, side by side, only this time they all linked arms. But this time if I ran into that same group now linking arms I would be stopped, I’d hit a brick wall – the group will not be torn apart.
The same is true in working with a team of people, if all have the vision of the leader buried deep within their hearts nothing will hinder the work that is being done. That is why it is so crucial for us to always be encouraging the people we lead. If discouragement tries to enter the camp it will fail at its task. Nehemiah ran into that, but in the continuation of encouraging his workers – the work continued and the city wall was rebuilt.
If we do not want the gates of hell to hold back the church we need to be always casting the vision in a way that will spur people into action – inspire them. John Maxwell said it this way in his book The 21 Indispensable qualities of a Leader, “As you communicate, never forget that the goal of all communication is action… Every time you speak to people, give them something to feel, something to remember, and something to do.If you’re successful in doing that, your ability to lead others will go to a new level.” We should want our ministries to be an unstoppable force in our communities, taking back the ground the Devil is stealing.
When we work together we can accomplish anything that comes our way. Rome created an empire, the colonial men and women created a new nation through the Revolutionary war, and Nehemiah built a wall. Likewise our lives need to be that living sacrifice wholly acceptable to God for the work that He has called us to. We can expand the Kingdom of God, if we put our minds and action to this good work. Like Paul, we want to be able to say we have fought the good fight of faith, that we have finished the race side by side as we work together building the Kingdom of God.
© 2009 J. B. Sisam | All Rights Reserved