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What we can learn from Nehemiah about rebuilding your broken world

William Vanderbloemen
William Vanderbloemen is the CEO of Vanderbloemen. |

Pastors, your role at this time is not easy. There is so much brokenness and unrest in the world right now. Between a global pandemic, racial injustice, civil unrest, natural disasters, and a polarizing election, it’s hard not to feel broken right now. Know that it is okay to cry, it is okay to be broken, it is okay not to know what is coming next. But, know you are not alone in this. Much like you, Nehemiah was tasked with rebuilding a broken world. Here are things we can learn from Nehemiah’s story that will hopefully offer you some encouragement as we seek to rebuild our broken world.

Let Your Heart Break, Shed Some Tears

In the book of Nehemiah, we find Nemehiah broken and crying. God’s city had been overtaken by a foreign government, but Nehemiah wasn’t crying over this — he was crying over a broken part of the wall. Considering everything that was happening in Nehemiah’s world, the broken part of the wall seemed to be the smallest possible thing he could be broken over, yet this was the cause of his tears.

We, much like Nehemiah, may be broken over something that is seemingly small in comparison to everything else going on around us. No matter the reason you are broken or how small it may seem, know it is okay to cry.

Crying may be necessary in order to move toward action, and even more so, it may be the humble response God needs from you in order to work in your situation. Nehemiah’s world only started to come back together when he cried. God hears our cries and knows our broken heart. Crying over what breaks your heart right now, even the smallest things, is a step toward healing. It’s a step toward the release of control and submission to God’s plan.

Look To The End And Know We Are In A Comedy, Not A Tragedy

After crying, the next thing we see Nehemiah doing is praying. The first thing Nehemiah prays for is forgiveness for himself and his family. This is seemingly out of place as we don’t know of anything specific that Nehemiah is repenting for. This prayer shows that Nehemiah is looking toward future judgment rather than his current situation.

In The Comedy of Redemption by Dr. Ralph Wood, Dr. Wood explains that in all of Shakespeare’s plays, the audience did not know if they were in a tragedy or a comedy until the third act, or the crux of the play.

In the story of the world, the crux of the play was the cross. Jesus’ death and resurrection made it clear that we are not in a tragedy, we are in a comedy. In the end, we know who wins and we know that everything will be okay. At the end of the day, we are still Jesus’ choice and the church is still his bride.

The First Proactive Step To Rebuilding Our World Is A Reactive Step To Prayer

The next thing we see in Nehemiah’s story is Nehemiah’s first proactive step. It was a reactive step to prayer. As Nehemiah’s world is crumbling and he begins trying to rebuild, we see him take time to spend time with God in prayer. Nehemiah knows that God is the only one who can rebuild his world and he turns to Him before doing anything else.

Over and over again in the Bible, we see Jesus retreating and taking time to spend in prayer. Let him be an example to you in this season and take this time to retreat and pray. Consider starting your day with prayer and letting the first thing you take in be words from God and the first thing you let out be words to God.

Look For Unprecedented Resources

After spending time in prayer, we see Nehemiah step into action. Nehemiah turns to a foreign king and asks him to help rebuild his world. It was unprecedented and unexpected that a foreign king would play a role in rebuilding the city of God, yet he does.

Having spent time in prayer and receiving the necessary resources, Nehemiah is now able to rebuild. Nehemiah is unable to do this on his own, so he seeks volunteers for help. The first people who begin to rebuild and defend the city are the priests. The priests were able to rebuild the city in record time in just 26 days. Even trained builders would not have been able to rebuild that quickly.

If these priests were not trained to rebuild the city, why did Nehemiah ask them for help first? The answer is simple — because they were the ones willing. As you rebuild your world, don’t look for those who are qualified, look for the unexpected people that are called and willing. The people God is using to rebuild are the ones who will be leading in the future.

Recognize The People That Are Doing Things

After the city is rebuilt, Nehemiah writes down the names of everyone who helped. While we often look over the passages in scripture that seem to be just a list of names, these names are in there because they played a role in the work of God.

Be sure to write down the names of those who are helping you rebuild. People are lonely and longing for personal connection. Recognize your people and reach out to them intentionally and personally.

Believe That God Can Get More Done Than You Think

The story of Nehemiah shows God doing big things in unexpected ways. The same God that was with Nehemiah is with us today and He is still doing big things. As you rebuild and walk through this difficult season, remember that God can and will do more than you could ever imagine.

William Vanderbloemen is the CEO of Vanderbloemen, which serves teams with a greater purpose by aligning their people solutions for growth: hiring, compensation, succession and culture. Through its retained executive search and consulting services, Vanderbloemen serves churches, schools, nonprofits, family offices, and Christian businesses in all parts of the United States and internationally. Follow him on Twitter @wvanderbloemen.

He is the author of Next: Pastoral Succession That Works, Search: The Pastoral Search Committee Handbook, Culture Wins: The Roadmap to an Irresistible Workplace and Don't Just Send a Resume: How to Find the Right Job in a Local Church.

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