Whether it’s revitalizing a church, dealing with a broken relationship or wrestling with one’s own self-confidence, most ministry workers and other Christians will spend at least some of the next year trying to restore something.
Nehemiah provides a key example for how to approach a rebuilding task, says GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins. Hawkins explores the example found in the Old Testament book in the latest installment of his Code series, The Nehemiah Code: It’s Never Too Late for a New Beginning.
As with all of Hawkins’ books, all author’s royalties and proceeds benefit the Mission:Dignity ministry, which provides financial assistance to retired pastors, Southern Baptist workers and their widows in financial need.
“Nehemiah was not a prophet, priest or politician,” Hawkins said in an interview. “He was a civil servant – the cupbearer to the King. He had a God-sized vision to restore the walls of Jerusalem. They were broken down and the gates were burned. He had an enormous task; the wall had been lying in rubble for decades. This was no time to merely bark orders; nor was it time to abdicate and leave the work for someone else to finish later. It had to be done.”
In The Nehemiah Code’s pages, Hawkins explores key leadership lessons Nehemiah demonstrated as he led the rebuilding of the walls and the gates – a task he completed in only 52 days. It’s a lesson anyone undertaking a rebuilding process can consider.
“Many of our churches are in the process of revitalizing or rebuilding,” Hawkins noted. “The six broad principles the book outlines from the pages of scripture are key to the revitalization process.”
The six principles include: Rebuilders Get Started Right, Rebuilders Build a Team Spirit, Rebuilders Let Go Without Letting Up, Rebuilders Understand “YAC” (Yards After Contact) Is What Really Matters, Rebuilders Never Cut What They Can Untie, and Rebuilders Finish Strong.
The individual sections explore each of the six broad themes.
“In the first section on getting started right, we see from Nehemiah how we must make an honest evaluation,” Hawkins said. “If you’re trying to rebuild a church, you must know the facts – what’s the spiritual health, the fiscal health, the physical health of any property. If you’re rebuilding a marriage, you have to know where the weaknesses and the challenges are. An honest assessment, which often requires outside points of view, is a must for a first step.”
Nehemiah – an outsider to the people of Jerusalem – was able to offer such an assessment.
“We will never get started right until we make our own honest evaluation of the situation,” Hawkins said.
In getting started right, Hawkins also notes that rebuilders must identify the need, take personal responsibility and move out of their comfort zones.
These steps are vitally important if a rebuilding task ever is to start right.
“As I talk to pastors each week, as I visit with businessmen in my travels, it is vividly evident that almost everyone – at some point – must take on a rebuilding task,” Hawkins said. “It is true of every race, of every culture, both men and women, young and old. The steps – the code, if you will – are drawn straight from the pages of scripture. They are as relevant in the 21st century in America as they were in the 4th century B.C. in Palestine.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations at GuideStone. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)