If this is your first time to this blog, welcome! If you are a regular, you know that we are in the middle of series called “Love Does” because love doesn’t just talk or think or even pray (though praying is always a good idea); Love takes action! Love does the hard things and takes risks to make important things happen. We’ve been looking at a fellow in the Bible, Nehemiah, who is a great example of someone who gets things done in the name of love. He actually single-handedly orchestrated the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem in 52 days! Talk about a guy who can get things done!
Step One: Check It Out
Am I the only one who feels a tad inferior when you hear about Nehemiah? I mean this guy fortified an entire city in about two months and I still haven’t accomplished my New Year’s resolution to clean out the garage! Don’t worry if the idea of taking action sounds intimidating, you aren’t alone. If it does, hopefully you read my previous blog post. In it we learned that you don’t have to do anything amazing in order to get started on God’s vision for your life because the first step in any dream, just like it was for Nehemiah’s quest to rebuild Jerusalem, is simply checking out. Whatever God has put in your heart, whether its to get a graduate degree or raising a family or starting a business, the first step isn’t accomplishing the goal. The first step is just investigating the steps. Just start looking into what has to happen in order to accomplish your goal. What classes do you need to take? Where can you get a business loan? Talk to your spouse about when he or she thinks it would be a good time to start a family. You don’t even have to tell anyone about it; Nehemiah didn’t. When you focus on the beginning of your goal instead of all the way at the end, it’s not so overwhelming, is it?
Do you want to know what the next step is to turning your vision for life into a reality?
If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry; the second step to turning your dream into a reality is just as easy as the first:
Step Two: Share Your Life Vision with Others
“Wait a second!” You are probably thinking. “You just said I didn’t have to tell anyone about my dream!”
Look with me at verse 17:
17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. Nehemiah 17-18
Once Nehemiah had checked everything out, he took the next step in making his vision a reality. He invited his closest friends into his vision. He let them know what’s up. He told them the story of his heart break and his conversation with the king and how he not only got permission but all the supplies that they would need. Did you notice the response to Nehemiah? “Let’s start rebuilding.” They were all in.
There is something that happens when we tell our dreams to other people. Let me give you an example of what I mean:
Years ago I challenged my elder board to follow their dreams. I bought each of them a book called The Dream Manager, by Matthew Kelly. It’s a very simple read that tells a fictional story of a company that helps people reach their dreams. At the end of the book the author gives a simple challenge to write down your top 100 dreams. But it doesn’t stop there, after you write down your dreams you need to get someone to keep you accountable to set a time to reach your dream. So we read this as a board and I sat down with each of my board members to set some dates. It was pretty exciting. One of our board members named Charlie wanted to climb Half Dome in Yosemite so he set a date and he started training. It’s 17 miles round trip and Charlie wanted to do it in a day so for months he went hiking several times a week to prepare. One weekend he accomplished his task. I remember it was a Sunday because he was hiking half dome during a service and I called him and all of Canyon Springs yelled “Hurray, Charlie” over the phone. Charlie reached his vision, but he never would have done it if he didn’t share it with someone. (bullets)
What do you want to do?
- Do you want to get your degree?
- Do you want to go on a mission?
- Do you want to feed homeless people?
- Do you want to start a business?
Invite someone into your dream. Tell them what you are thinking. Let them help you bring your vision into existence.
[bctt tweet=”Your life vision is solidified by sharing with others.” username=”canyon_springs”]
Once you let someone else in on your vision it becomes more than a vision in your head, it takes on a shape, a form all of its own.
The Flip Side
So there is a strange step that Nehemiah takes in this chapter. I mentioned it before. Does anyone know what I’m talking about. Nehemiah gets on his horse and he wanders around then he looks at this gate and that gate and crawls over this rubble and under that broken down wall. All the while his friends are right there. They are watching him. They are looking at him. And Nehemiah doesn’t say anything. He gives them no clue. What do you think they are thinking in this moment? I’m guessing they are thinking, “What the heck? What are you doing? Why are you wandering around the dung gate?” That would just be weird, don’t you think? Why did Nehemiah do that? Any guesses? Look with me at verse 19
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?” 20 I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.” Nehemiah 2:19-20
Here’s why I think Nehemiah waited. It is what I would consider a rock solid rule of life and leadership. Are you ready for the third step to turning your dreams into reality? Hold on to your seats because this one is a doozie:
Step Three: Accept that Your Life Vision Will be Mocked and Ridiculed
Here’s my leadership philosophy. If you try to make a difference in the world and love people and change lives, someone, somewhere thinks you’re an idiot. Someone thinks you’re doing it wrong. I’m not the only one with this philosophy.
Oliver Emberton put it like this (allow me to paraphrase): If you aren’t ticking someone off, you probably aren’t doing anything important Meaningful achievements are, perversely, more likely to annoy the world around you. Are you losing weight? “You should be happy with your own body!” Saving children in Africa? “You should save your own country!” Curing cancer? “What took you so long?” Whatever you do, you’re going to annoy someone.
That’s true, isn’t it? I have a friend who used to sign all her emails with this Chinese proverb: “Those who say it can’t be done shouldn’t interrupt those who are doing it.”
If you have a vision there will be someone who thinks you can’t do it or you are doing it wrong or you shouldn’t be doing it. That’s just life. I think that’s why Nehemiah put off telling people for so long. He didn’t want to have to deal with the criticism.
Putting love into action is not always easy. You will get criticized. You will have anxious moments. But in the end it’s awesome.
[bctt tweet=”Putting love into action isn’t easy but in the end its awesome.” username=”canyon_springs”]