When I was in High School my friends and I used to take weekend road trips. We would all pile into one of our cars and hit the road. We had no plan, no goal and no destination in mind. Just a weekend of cranked up John Cougar Mellencamp, Guns and Roses, and Bon Jovi. We were free spirited girls with nothing to lose. This was during the time of paper maps, the time before the invention of GPS. Often we would find ourselves completely lost and would have to find a roadside store or stand, hoping they had a paper map. More often than us girls would ever care to admit; we would get seriously lost at times and even a little scared. We would have no idea where we were or how to get back home. We quickly learned that traveling without directions was probably not the best idea after all. We soon learned to be prepared and brought along maps before we set out.
“Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign, and I established the duties of the priests and Levites, each in his work; and I provided for the wood offering at appointed times, and for the first fruits. Remember me, O my God, for good.” Nehemiah 13:30-31 ESV
Nehemiah has set the children of Israel up with leaders and given everyone a job before returning to his duties to the king. Twelve years has gone by he comes back for a visit. What he finds is not a thriving field of activity, but a people who have fallen back into old habits. They are working on the Sabbath, allowing foreigners into the land and they have not kept the Law of their God. Nehemiah had a vision and a plan when he started rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, but somewhere along the line, the people got lost.
I have a vision, a dream for my business and its future. I have a goal in mind and I want to do everything I can to reach it. However, I need people to help me get there. I need to people to hop in the car with me and take a little road trip. Unfortunately, I haven’t been giving very good directions of late. They seem to be lost and I am struggling because of it. I haven’t established their duties. I gave them my destination, but forgot to tell them how to get there.
Nehemiah sees the need for direction and sets forth to give it. The first thing he does is cleanse the people from all that is foreign. Something foreign means that it does not belong with the holy things of God. What in your life, in your business, in your ministry, or whatever it is that you are not experiencing growth in- what does not belong with the holy things of God? Growth cannot happen unless proper care and proper attention is given to the seeds we want to grow. Are there things in your life that need to go? Take time to examine every area of your life; your work, your ministry, those areas that are not growing. Ask these 5 questions as you go through each area:
1) What is foreign among you?
2) What is hindering your growth?
3) What is lacking?
4) What is needed to move forward?
5) Where are you growing, and why?
Remove those things that do not belong, that are hindering you, holding you back and keeping you from moving forward. We are fast approaching a new year. Take this time to cleanse your life in preparation of a new start, a new beginning, a new year. It’s easy to jump in a car and head out in eager anticipation of a great adventure, but don’t be surprised when you find yourself lost and stopped along the side of the road wondering what the heck just happened.
After you have answered these questions, take the time to examine them and set down clear directions “duties” that will help you reach your destination. How will my co-laborers in this business know my vision if I do not give them clear directions and duties to help me reach it? How will we be able to get from start to finish if the ones doing the driving do not know where they are going? I am confident that God wants us to set goals and He wants us to pursue those dreams He has placed in the depths of our hearts. I also believe that He is a God who plans and prepares a way for us, and He wants us to follow His example.
Making plans, setting goals and setting forth directions for those who are on this journey with you is not un-biblical, in fact, throughout the Bible we see leaders giving directions and orders based on God’s leading all the time. David could not have commanded an army had he not given clear directions. He would not have had an army to follow him had he not shared his dream to be king. The men who were in his service would not had followed him had he not shared with them the things God had prepared for David to walk in. Moses could not lead the people of Israel without guidelines, and laws and statutes given to him by God. In Exodus 18 Jethro gives Moses wise counsel when he tells him to appoint men to help him. Give them directions so they can then guide the people.
I am at a standstill today because I haven’t given clear direction. I need to examine where I am and begin to lay out the direction I want others to follow. I need to establish the duties needed to reach the goals before me. You can’t reach your destination unless you know how you are going to get there.
Finally, Nehemiah provided for them what they needed when they needed it. Not only did he cleanse that which was hindering them, but he also clearly defined what they needed to do to move forward in the things God had prepared for them. He made sure they knew where they were going and they had the maps, keys and gas to get there. You can give someone a job, but unless they have the tools to do the job, not a whole lot of work is going to get done.
Examine yourself. Examine your dreams, goals, and desires before the Lord. Cleanse those things in your life that are foreign. Set forth your destination and the map on how you are going to get there. I am not saying that God would have you follow your plan to the letter, because He is still God and His way is always better. When you find yourself stuck on the side of the road, examine your plans and your directions, God will guide you in the way that you should go. Don’t just jump in the car and go. Making plans is not a sin, our God is a God who plans. They are needed for those who are in the car with you and it is the surest way to get to where you need to go.