Scripture: Nehemiah 4:1-6
A few months ago, we made the decision to renovate a property my mother wants to sell. Armed with confidence, a little bit of skill and HGTV, we bit off what we thought would be an easy four-week flip. We are now in deep with rotted joists, plumbing issues and gutted walls. Many well-meaning friends have stopped by to encourage us only to shake their heads with the look of “You are in so much trouble” on their silent faces. I smile and try excitedly to paint a vision for what this house could be. Yesterday, as my sister-in-law left shaking her head, I wondered how in the world vision can be better communicated.
The prophet Nehemiah seemed to have similar results when he tried to communicate his vision for the rebuilding of the wall. He saw what was and what could be, and in the crucible of that place, he birthed a vision. While the foreign king agreed with his plan and sent him off resourced, the response from the ones he was trying to affect was mixed at best and threatening at worst. Some of the people immediately joined the work; others complained or sowed doubt and fear. Trying to win others over to your vision is not for the faint of heart and requires patience, tenacity and thick skin.
I remember a time that the Lord gave me a vision for how we could impact Croatian families. I excitedly shared this vision with our team who struggled to see the benefit over the amount of work it would take to pull it off. As I cheered them on/steamrolled over them, I experienced a significant shift in my attitude from “I wonder how God wants to show his glory in this way” to “Why can’t I get these lazy people in gear???!” I definitely lost my patience, became tenacious about the wrong things, and then, when criticism came, I moved to blaming instead of listening.
Leadership is tough. My pastor friend once said that it’s hard to lead the sheep when they keep biting you in the butt. But setting aside a vision that God has given is even harder. When we’re serious about wanting to impact others for God’s purposes, then we’re going to get bitten, criticized, questioned, sighed at, doubted…which, in turn, will encourage us to bite, criticize, question, sigh loudly, and doubt. So, we all must keep going back to the vision-giver, expressing our fear and frustration, and then with tenacious grace towards ourselves and others, do the next right thing.*
ACTION: Are you struggling to hold on to a vision because of the difficulty of the process? Are there ways in which you’ve moved away from patience, tenacity or thick skin? What’s the next right thing* for you to pursue today?
*Reference to a Frozen II song you can watch and interpret for yourself: