Friday, September 30, 2011

Will You Accept the Nehemiah Challenge?

When Hanani came to the citadel of Susa to visit his brother, Nehemiah, he announced, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province, are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire." What would you do if you heard that your hometown sat in ruins ninety years after it's destruction? Nehemiah sat down and wept. He mourned, fasted and prayed to the God of heaven.

I teach my Sunday school students that Nehemiah was a man of prayer, and they can remember his name by thinking "Knee-high-miah," because he was on his knees about everything that concerned him or his people. The day Hanani told him about his people living in the ruins of Jerusalem, Nehemiah began four months of fasting and praying for a solution.

What follows is not only great leadership training but includes nuggets we can use in our writing to inspire. Here are four things to remember as you hone your craft to serve our Lord:
  1. Realize our limitations. Only God can change a man's heart. Although Nehemiah was one of Israel's captives in Syria, he had a great job as cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. A strange law in the land prohibited anyone from showing sadness before the king. So Nehemiah was careful not to show his grieving for Jerusalem. Yet, the king knew something was wrong and because God's hand was on Nehemiah, the opportunity he prayed for arose. As Christian writers, we know our limitations. Even though we write to change hearts for God, it is He alone who is able, not us.
  2. Turn to God by praying and waiting. Four months Nehemiah prayed and fasted. Praying over our projects is essential as we use our writing to speak of God's love and grace. As we submit to God in prayer, we might find, like Nehemiah, that the answers are not immediate. We might have to wait.
  3. Organize a plan of action while waiting for the right opportunities. Do you have a plan to accomplish your goals? A book a year? twenty-five articles? Determine what it will take. How many words to you have to write each day to accomplish your goal? How much research is involved? How many queries or submissions do you have to make? Nehemiah developed a detailed plan of what he needed for his building project. So when the opportunity came, he knew what to request of the king. Amazingly the king not only supplied what Nehemiah requested, he sent him with an army.
  4. Recognize the opposition. We each have a stinker who doesn't want us to accomplish any good thing for God. His name is Satan and he will use whatever people, circumstances, lies and discouragement are necessary to throw us off track. Nehemiah faced the opposition of the surrounding nations' leaders. They heckled him and used several obstacles to keep him from his work. Praise God, they didn't win. The people of Israel under Nehemiah's leadership finished the project in fifty-two days. Incredible, isn't it?
How do you stay focused? How do you meet your goals and deadlines?  How do you thwart discouragement? It would be great if you could share some encouragement with our writers.

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