Nehemiah 3 - Making The Vision A Reality

Steve Viars July 13, 1996 Nehemiah 3:

- This morning we're going to be studying chapter 3 of the book of Nehemiah.
- remember, that chapter 2 concluded with some very important and powerful
statements:
1) v. 18 - "Let us arise and build."
2) v. 18  "So they put their hands to the work.."
3) v. 20 - "The God of heaven will give us success."

- What happens in chapter 3 is that Nehemiah begins taking the mission off the
drawing board and into the reality of life.
- We're calling this chapter - "Making the Vision a Reality."
- of course you understand when we use the word vision, we're not talking
about some supernatural extra-biblical revelation from God.
- Instead, we're talking about what the group has decided God wants them to
accomplish. (the dream///the mission).

- But what we're going to see today is that a critical shift has to take place in
going from "what you believe God wants you to do" to "How that goal is going to be accomplished" (or what steps have be taken in order to get that job done).
- Both parts of the equation are very important, but seldom is a person
equally effective at both parts.
- Some find it easier to dream, or think about the big picture...the "what
we'd like to do."
- Others find it easier to determine what will be involved to get the job
done once the big picture has been communicated to them.
- But both aspects are very important, and we see a transition from the
first to the second in this chapter.

- James Montgomery Boice speaks of four "leadership dynamics" that have
surfaced thus far in the book:

1) The relationship of the leader to God.
Of course this is what is often (if not always) missed in the secular literature on leadership.  The fact that this book started at this point is a very important think to note.

2) The relationship of the leader to his superiors.
Many people in leadership find themselves in some level of "middle management."
Yes, they are responsible to organize and manage others, but there is someone above them to whom they must answer.

3) The relationship of the leader to those he is called upon to lead.
Chapter two showed us some classic principles about how to treat those God has called you to supervise.

4) The fourth "dynamic" is the one that surfaces in chapter 3 -- that of
knowing how to get the job done.  (How to make the vision a reality.)

Your interest in and enthusiasm about what we're about to study is going to be affected by at least two things:

1) The importance you place on the details involved in getting a job done.
If you look over the chapter, you see that it is a list of "who did what" in
this project.
Some people see such information as boring or unimportant.
In fact, in Chuck Swindoll's book, he literally skips this entire chapter (the
rest of the book is very helpful---and he doesn't explain why he chose to skip it).
My point here is -- someone here this morning could have a similar view --
- details are unimportant.

2) An aversion to work.
People who don't like to work (I'm speaking especially here about non-
remunerative work for God --- since that’s the kind of work we're studying here) are not going to like this chapter.

The British humorist Jerome K. Jerome said, "I like work.  It fascinates me.  I can sit and look at it for hours!"

On the other hand, God's people ought to experts at how to work for Him.

cf. Eph. 4:11-13

cf. I Cor. 15:58

D. L. Moody said, "A great many people have got a false idea about the church. they believe the church is a place to rest in...to get into a nicely cushioned pew, and contribute to the charities, listen to the minister, and to do their share to keep the church out of bankruptcy, is all they want. the idea of work for them-actual work in the church, never enters their mind."

I know this morning that many people in our class do understand the importance of details, and do like to work for God. because thats true, we're going to take a week to look for three principles to help us make the transition from vision to reality.

Read selected parts of Nehemiah 3:1-32 (See Boice, p. 57-58)


I. Break the Task Down Into Manageable Parts

This chapter mentions 40 or 41 different work groups.

INPUT - Who are some of the people (or groups of people) mentioned in this passage and what tasks did they accomplish?

A good verse from the NT to lay down next to this is I Cor. 14:40 - "But let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner."

Richard Wytmer wrote in Automation Magazine, "One of the most universal traits of leadership and success is simplicity. This is the capacity to cut the problems down to size; to explain even the most complex of situations in the simplest of terms. It is the art of using words, gestures, and behavior that are simple, common, and understandable to all people, and therefore easily communicable."

The point is -- The Lord is helping us to see a very important facet of getting a job done for Him, that is, developing the ability to break a task down into manageable parts.

INPUT (If time) - Let's take one of our ministries here, and try to do what
Nehemiah did.  (Living Nativity -- What possible "parts" might we break that task down into?)

(If time, Boice lists 4 important hindrances to following this first principle - pp. 61-62)

II. Make Wise and Informed Ministry Assignments.

As you read through this chapter, there are hints as to how and why Nehemiah assigned certain people the way he did.
One principle that flows out of this is:

A. Get as many people involved as possible.

Its obvious from this chapter that Nehemiah got all kinds of different people involved in the project:

1) Priests
3:1 - Eliashib the high priest arose with his brothers the priests.

2) Men of Jericho
3:2 - "next to them, the men of Jericho."
Jericho was a way off from Jerusalem, but Nehemiah found a place for them to work. 
Residents of a number of other cities are mentioned in this chapter as well, including Tekoa, Gibeon, Mizpah, Zanoah, Beth Hakerem, Beth Zur, and Keilah.

3) Guild Members
3:8 - "Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah of the goldsmiths made repairs."
INPUT - What challenges would this have brought to the equation?
4) City Officials
v. 9 - Rephaiah the son of Hur, the official of half the district of Jerusalem made repairs.
Even the city administrators put on their work clothes and rolled up their sleeves.

5) Women
v. 12 - "Shallum...he and his daughters..."

6) Singles
v. 23 - "Benjamin and hassub carried out repairs in front of their house."

7) Temple servants
v. 26 - "And the temple servants living in Ophel made repairs as far as in front of the Water Gate...'

8) City guards
"Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, carried out repairs."

9) Merchants
v. 32 - "...the goldsmiths and the merchants carried out repairs."
This may have been a time where they could have made extra money because of all the activity and potential trading that was going on. But instead, they worked right along with everyone else.
The point of all of this is that after Nehemiah divided this job out into manageable tasks, he got as many different kinds of people involved as possible.

What we're studying right now is a very important element of local church life.  One of the measuring sticks to use in determining the health of the church is, "How many persons are using their gifts and abilities to serve Jesus Christ and further His ministry here?"

The old adage, "Ninety per cent of the work in a church is done by ten per cent of the people" is an unacceptable formula.  God wants everyone serving, because in so doing they are choosing to be like the Son He loves.

In order to make that happen, we've got to be looking for ways to be constantly training persons to serve, and then to joyfully and enthusiastically get as many persons involved in ministry as possible.

B. Make assignments carefully.

Another idea that flows out of what we've been studying is that Nehemiah was very careful about where he asked men and women to work.  Often, their assignment was very close to where they lived?

INPUT - Why do you think this may have been, and what can we learn from this?

III. Recognize and Commend the Workers for the Job They Do.

A. Give honor to whom honor is due

The fact that Nehemiah mentions all of these persons by name tells us that Nehemiah was quick to point out the contribution of others.

INPUT - What do you think Nehemiah would have been like when he came on the job site (based on what we're reading in chapter 3?)
(knew people by name, commended them for what they were doing---along with directing and pointing out things that needed to be improved)

B. Cultivate a heart of appreciation

Nehemiah was able to do what we studied under letter "A" because he had an appreciative heart.  He honestly recognized and appreciated the contribution these men and women were making.

cf. Jim Nichols - "I painted the showers."

cf. Nebuchadnezzar - Daniel 4:30

Cyril Barber - "In a well managed enterprise, a good leader always takes a little more than his share of the blame and a lot less of his share of the credit."
Adult Sunday School
The Book Of Nehemiah
Neh. 3 - "Making The Vision A Reality"
I. Break the Task Down Into Manageable
Parts
INPUT - Who are some of the people
(or groups of people) mentioned in this passage and what tasks did they accomplish?
I Cor. 14:40 - "But let all things be done
properly and in an orderly manner."
Richard Wytmer - Automation
Magazine, "One of the most universal traits of leadership and success is simplicity. This is the capacity to cut the problems down to size; to explain even the most complex of situations in the simplest of terms. It is the art of using words, gestures, and behavior that are simple, common, and understandable to all people, and therefore easily communicable."

 

 

 

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987.  He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and they have three children. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church.  He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of Vision of Hope and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

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