I am a die-hard football fan. (American football, College and of course, The NFL) My weekends are so empty and aimless from February until August. They are filled with useless things until that first joy filled day of hope in August when the Hall of Fame game is televised, officially announcing the start of pre-season. Ah, the smell of fresh pigskin and the sound of helmets cracking up against one another- isn’t it just the best! The only reason why I tried out for cheerleading in high school was because, back in my days, girls were not allowed to try out for the football team. Cheering from the sidelines was as close as I could get, which also meant I did more watching of the game, then actually cheering for it- much to my coach’s displeasure.
One of my favorite positions on the football team is the quarterback. The skill and the knowledge that it takes to play that position are not learned, they are a gift. In my opinion, there are not many gifted quarterbacks in the league today, well, except for maybe Drew Brees, the quarterback for my beloved New Orleans Saints. But then again, even Drew Brees is only as good as the team around him. No matter how on target and how on time his throws are if his receivers are off the he is going to be off as well. But, even if his receivers are on point and running the right routes, if his blockers don’t block he will be on the ground before he can even get the pass off. Without his team being on the same page as he is, they will never win a game. (This may explain last season!)
These new adventures that we are on are no different than your average football team. Running a company, building a business or starting a ministry takes not only your commitment and your dedication, but it takes the same commitment from the people around you. You can have all the skills, and knowledge and gifts to do the work, but if no one else is on the same page as you are, you might as well throw in the towel and give up the season.
This part of our new adventure takes us back to the book of Nehemiah where we revisit the people of Israel. They have celebrated the festival of booths; they have confessed their sins and remembered the work of God through their fathers and even now, as He has led them to Jerusalem to start anew. (We are actually going to come back to chapter 9 later on our journey’s, but for now we are going to skip ahead.) Let’s visit the last verse in Chapter 9 as we dive into this next step in our adventure.
“Because of all this we make a firm covenant in writing; on the sealed documents are the name of our princes, our Levites, and our priests. On the seals are the names of Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hacaliah, Zedekiah, Seraiah…” (Nehemiah goes on to list a bunch of names that I won’t list for you- you can go and read for yourselves.) Nehemiah 9:38-10:27 ESV
Nehemiah and the people with him set a seal upon a covenant. A seal was a fixed mark or marking that made the documents official. It says that the people who have signed this document agree to all the terms listed in the agreement, each one committed to doing their part. In business these documents could be our business plans, our job descriptions, and our expectations for the people who work or serve alongside us. Nehemiah and the leaders, the Levites, and the priests agreed to do all that was written within. Each person was committed and willing to fulfill the requirements.
We need to ask ourselves if we are willing to do what is necessary to be successful. Building a business, starting a ministry, or even saying “I Do” takes a commitment on a very large scale. If you are passionate and willing, that is good, but passion can wane and wax cold when the going gets tough. Passion is not the same as commitment; don’t mistake one for the other. Before we go any further on this journey we need to take a minute, a day, or even a week to pray and examine your heart before the Lord. Are you passionate or are you committed? Make sure you are willing to do what it takes to finish this journey- your passion and desire may wane, but your commitment needs to remain strong.
“The rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all who have separated themselves from the peoples of the land to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, their daughters, all who have knowledge and understanding, join with their brothers, their nobles, and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law that was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord and His rules and His statutes.” Nehemiah 10:28-29 ESV
Next we see the people of Israel, those who would be under the rule of the governors, the princes and the priests, agreeing to do their part as well. It is so very important to have like-minded, committed people with you and working for you. Just like Drew Brees is only as good as Marcus Colston or Pierre Thomas, we are only as good as those who work for us.
Notice in verse 29 we are told that the people “join with their brothers, their nobles”. The people didn’t just clock in and clock out. They joined with their leaders. Finding good help can be difficult, but it is not impossible. For many years I worked in upper management for various corporations. Finding people who were committed and wanting to work was difficult, and keeping those who were committed from leaving for a better position was even harder. But, your commitment not your passion is what will draw people to want to get behind you and will cause them to join with you. A committed leader is a leader people will walk with- be committed for them, as well as for yourself.
The word join actually means to make stronger, to strengthen. Surround yourself with those who build you up instead of tearing you down. Just because your brother’s son is old enough to work in the business, doesn’t mean he should. Be ready and willing to let go and add when and where you need to when it comes to the people who work with you.
Nehemiah 10:30-39 lists for us the things that the people agreed to do. (Feel free to go and read on your own time.) They agreed that they would not let their daughters and sons marry foreigners (vs. 30). They agreed to not buy or sell on the Sabbath day (vs. 31). They agreed to do a number of things for the benefit of the city as well as its people. The New King James Version says that they “made ordinances” while the English Standard Version says that they “obligated” themselves to do these things. An ordinance is a rule. It is a guideline that is written down so that people know what they are supposed to be doing and how they are supposed to be doing it. If your wide receiver doesn’t know what route he is supposed to be running and goes right while you are trying to throw left, what is going to happen? Most likely the corner or the safety is going to intercept and run it into the end zone. No matter what you are building, or what business you are in, if the people don’t know what they are supposed to be doing, then all that commitment is for nothing.
Even in our homes and our daily lives if we don’t know what to do, we will never get it done. Running a company or starting a ministry without clear direction in regards to everyone’s role is like telling my son to go and mow the lawn without teaching him how to turn on the mower. You are the quarterback of your team. Your wide receivers need to know the routes they are supposed to be running, and your blockers need to know when to block. Our God is a God of order. He does not just throw us into a new adventure without a play book, and we should not expect those with us or under us to go without one either. Get your people in order, and let them know what is expected of them, what kind of commitment it will take. Who knows, if we do this right, we just might win the next Super Bowl! Go Saints!