I had the opportunity to address a group of pastors recently. I was asked to speak to them on the general subject of leadership. My message was simple. “Don’t Get Discouraged and Don’t Get Distracted.” I think this is a lesson for anyone.
I shared from my experiences briefly, but mostly I shared from the Bible story of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was as great a leader as I have ever studied. Nehemiah got people who had a decades old history of inactivity to build a protective wall around Jerusalem in 52 days. How did he do that? Fighting through the discouragement and distractions was the key. Let’s talk about those distractions today.
Here is what I have learned in my experience, and the lesson is communicated well in Nehemiah.
In the midst of a great work (4:19) for a great God (1:5), we can always expect great distractions.
Nehemiah experienced several kinds of distraction. He experienced outside distraction. The non-Israelite residents of Jerusalem sought to discourage the workers. They ridiculed their work. “Even if a fox should climb on your wall, it would fall down.” Then, Nehemiah experienced inside distraction. The Jews began to fight among themselves and blame one another. Read chapter 5. This happens in the church. If Satan cannot distract us from the outside, he moves to the inside. Here is where he does his most demoralizing work. When that doesn’t work, Satan’s attacks get more personal. They did for Nehemiah. Read chapter 6. Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem planned to harm Nehemiah. They spread rumors about Nehemiah. They sent letters to Nehemiah. (Pastor, aren’t those fun!)
The closer we seem to get to finishing a task, the more intense the distractions seem to come.
So what do we do? We do what Nehemiah did.
- Trust each other.
- Trust God’s Word.
- Trust God, Himself.
This is how we get the testimony of Nehemiah 6:14.
“When all our enemies heard this, all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God.”