jtrhart

Posts Tagged ‘goals’

Nehemiah: Finishing Well

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2010 at 7:20 am

checkboxDone.

Check.

Cross it off your list.

Finished.

The bigger the project the more satisfying it is to complete it. Nehemiah completed building the wall (6:15) but his project was not quite finished. He had to set things up so that the people could sustain themselves. He set up doors, gatekeepers and guard posts, reinstated the priests, and installed a governor over Jerusalem. In his mind, if this wasn’t done then the project was a failure.

It’s tempting to say you are finished when the majority of the work is done. You pushed hard to complete 95% and that feels “good enough” but that 5% will not complete itself, it needs the same effort. This is one of the differences between work done and work done well. It’s easily overcome with good planning done upfront. Have a clear definition of what will make your project successful and work towards that.

As I write this I’m thinking about all of the projects I have outstanding. It’s a long, embarrassing list. I will write about overcoming this tomorrow.

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Nehemiah: Distractions, Part 4

In Uncategorized on March 8, 2010 at 7:37 am

Final post on how Nehemiah dealt with distractions.

Nehemiah 6 describes a similar distraction that was shown in chapter 2, the verbal kind. Nehemiah’s enemies attempted to pull him away from his work by dragging him into endless political discussions. They repeatedly sent him messages asking him to meet with them. Each time Nehemiah basically ignores them. He tells them he has no time to meet and talk. He has a goal (get the wall built) and he can’t stop and deliberate.

Discernment

The last attempt to get Nehemiah away from his project (if you distract the leader you distract everyone else) was different. One of his own people told him that his life is in danger and that he should go into the inner part of the temple sanctuary and hide. Nehemiah took this one seriously because of the source. As he thought about it he came to see that it too was a distraction. This time he had to be discerning in his thinking.

He found an error in the request that exposed the message for what it really was. Nehemiah was not a priest and only the priests were allowed to enter into the inner part of the temple. If this message had been from God as a warning then he knew that God would not ask him to sin by doing something against God’s Law. Nehemiah did not allow the fear for his life to overshadow his good judgement in knowing right and wrong.

A moral distraction is probably a little more rare for us. We aren’t tempted daily to break the law while remodeling a bathroom or completing a report for your boss. Unfortunately this makes us less aware of the danger when it does come up because we get blindsided quickly. Are you prepared for this kind of distraction when it knocks at your door just before quitting-time Friday afternoon?

Nehemiah: Distractions, Part 3

In Uncategorized on March 5, 2010 at 8:03 am

There are two more discussions on distractions that Nehemiah faced. Both distractions we have already looked at were external to the project. Now Nehemiah was facing a distraction caused by those on his own team. Morale was being threatened because the workers and their families were starving, losing their homes and their land, and being sold into slavery, all by their own people! This was indirectly affecting his work towards the goal (get the wall built) so Nehemiah confronted it.

Confrontation

It is going to happen at some point in your project. Someone is going to need to be confronted for something he is or isn’t doing. Letting it pass by will only cause bigger problems in the end. When Nehemiah learned of the unjust way the rich were treating the poor he didn’t hold back anything, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies?” The people admitted to the wrong they were doing and pledged to stop it and make amends.

Nehemiah did not have to convince people, there was no argument. Sometimes confrontation just needs to happen. The issue on everyone’s minds just needs to be aired and immediately the mood changes. Sometimes it just takes a few words, rightly spoken, to make folks realize they need to change what they are doing.

What I also love about this story is that no one could accuse Nehemiah of acting in a similar way. In verses 5:14-19 it describes Nehemiah’s lifestyle while he was governor. He refused to take the governor’s food allowance, which was considerably large. He refused the free land offered to him but made his household work for their food. Best of all, he cut taxes. Confrontation goes a long way when the confronter isn’t a hypocrite.

Can you think of any areas where you are shrinking back from confrontation at the expense of your goals?

Nehemiah: Distractions, Part 1

In Uncategorized on February 15, 2010 at 6:55 am

Nehemiah encounters four different distractions as he works towards his goal: get the wall built.

Dealing With Criticism

Nehemiah goes public with his plan and gets the people and supplies he needs to make it happen. Immediately Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem (STG) speak up and criticize the plan. Nehemiah’s response is simple and only involves two steps:

  1. Restate the plan
  2. Ignore the criticism

Nehemiah could do this because he discerned that he didn’t need STG on his team and that their criticism was only verbal and carried no weight.

People tend to lose heart when they hear criticism so you want to be sure to restate your plan in a positive light. Nehemiah simply said God is with us and we will build this wall and then got back to work.

Most distractions can be ignored. Look at your goal and determine if the distraction will keep you from reaching your mark. If it doesn’t, ignore it. Completely. We’ll see a case where Nehemiah couldn’t ignore a distraction soon enough.

It is helpful to label most things that come up as distractions. This keeps your goal and any necessary actions required to make that goal in proper focus. If you are building a wall and you run out of wood, that’s a problem. If you are building a wall and some outsiders tell you it can’t be done, that’s a distraction. Do you see the difference? One stops you from finishing, the other causes you to forget what you are working on.

Nehemiah: Planning, Part 2

In Uncategorized on February 11, 2010 at 7:03 am

Read through Part 1.

Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem with his entourage but for three days he kept his goal (get the wall built) to himself. His entourage was clueless and so were the people he’d need to enlist to do the physical labor. Then, in the middle of the night, he snuck off to go inspect the wall in detail. Every inch of it.

Why did he keep this a secret from everyone?

Do You Have All The Details Yet?

Morale drops when someone asks the leader a question about the project and the leader has no answer. We start to lose trust in leadership. Nehemiah didn’t let this happen. Before he announced that he was going to rebuild the wall he made sure he had everything mapped out.

When Nehemiah told the people that God was with him and that they would rebuild the wall there was no discussion about it. The people simply answered, “let us rise up and build.” If you want this kind of response to your project give people a reason to respond this way. Give people details before they ask.

Here are the details of Nehemiah’s plan, he knew:

  • God was with them
  • the goal, the point where he could say it was finished
  • how long the rebuilding would take
  • what supplies were necessary
  • how many workers were needed
  • where each family would work

Imagine your response if someone comes to you and asks for help and lays out all these details before you. Will questions immediately start forming in your head that will cause doubt? Won’t happen. Isn’t it great when someone removes the hurdles before they are formed?

It is exciting for people to be part of something you have given them a detailed vision of. Go create your detailed plan and develop this kind of trust.

Nehemiah: Planning, Part 1

In Uncategorized on February 10, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Nehemiah went through two phases of planning. He first needed a plan to get from Susa to Jerusalem. Then he could inspect the damage and develop a plan to fix the wall. Both plans have the same goal: get the wall built.

What Do You Need?

Nehemiah had a fantastic opportunity with the king one day. The leader of the largest empire in the world asked him, “What are you requesting?” and Nehemiah was ready with a response. He knew he needed to get to Israel (king’s escort) and he knew he needed to build the wall (supplies). So he asked and received. The king then wanted to know how long it would take him. Again, Nehemiah was ready.

We don’t always have it so easy that the boss asks us, “What do you need?” usually we have to make the effort to go and ask. In either case, we should know the answer to that question before we begin the actual work. Once you know what you need and how long it will take you, you can be confident when you go before the decision makers and the ones holding the resources. If you’ve done the hard work of planning it takes the stress off the decision maker because they can see the whole picture.

Arm yourself with a plan, then go get what you need to do it.

Nehemiah: Setting Goals

In Uncategorized on February 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm

The end of Nehemiah’s prayer indicates that he had gotten a task from God during his four months of prayer and fasting. Nehemiah now had a single, definitive goal: get the wall built.

The Importance of Having Clear Goals

In any project you must have one or two clear goals. How will you know when you’ve finished if you don’t know what you’re working on? If your goals are clearly stated then when problems come up you can know which ones need to be addressed and which ones aren’t really problems at all. With well-defined goals you can bypass any distractions because you know that they will take you down a path that will not allow you to achieve the goal. Any action taken either gets you closer to finishing or wastes resources.

We’ll see Nehemiah distracted by those outside the project and by those within. There were plenty of escape routes for him to give up on the wall. But he kept his focus on what he knew God had given him to do and worked towards that goal.

What Are Your Goals?

A project can be anything from reading a book to losing weight or delivering a piece of software. Take a moment now to look at a few of the projects you have before you. Can you state in a few words what the goal is for each one? Are the actions you are taking leading you towards finishing?

Nehemiah: Prayer and Fasting

In Uncategorized on February 8, 2010 at 8:39 am

The book of Nehemiah begins with Nehemiah learning about the troubles facing the remnant of Jews living in Jerusalem. The wall surrounding the city has broken down, leaving its inhabitants defenseless.

Nehemiah is greatly troubled by the news and spends the next five months in prayer and fasting. This is how any great project must begin. Many stories in the Bible start with God drawing someone out and placing them in the wilderness where they pray and fast while they hear from God.

Listen to how Nehemiah prays:

  • Praising God for who he is (v.5) – God is great, awesome, a keeper of covenant, a steadfast lover of those who are his, a rewarder of those who keep his commands.
  • Pleading to be heard (v.6) – begs God to open his ear to his prayer.
  • Confessing sins (vv.6,7) – recognizes that he and his people have sinned before God alone.
  • Recounting God’s promises (vv.8-10) – recognizes his dependence on God’s provision and promises.
  • Requesting God’s help (v.11) – asks for favor as he undertakes his project.

It’s most interesting to note that the majority of Nehemiah’s prayer is spent on things other than his actual prayer request. This is how God wants us to pray. Spend time praising God for who he is and what he has done. Recount the evidences of God’s grace in your life. Pray back portions of Scripture to him. God knows your request before you do, don’t spend a lot of time on it.

Nehemiah didn’t start planning on rebuilding the wall first and then ask for God’s help with it. He prayed and fasted while he listened for God.

Nehemiah: Setting Goals and Enduring

In Uncategorized on February 8, 2010 at 8:03 am

About this time of year you’ve either kept, dropped, or forgotten any resolutions you’ve made. The book of Nehemiah is filled with some very practical ways of setting and keeping goals and dealing with the distractions that keep us from being successful.

The next series of posts will detail what Nehemiah went through in his building campaign and describe some useful ways of applying what he did to our own projects.