If the only way to eat a whole cow is to take your time and do it in bite size pieces (see last week’s study), what happens when the pressure’s really on? What if the vision is so big, the needs so great and the timescale so short that even if you do apply yourself to the task, you simply cannot can’t keep up?
The obvious answer is that vision and guidance are rarely, if ever, delivered in a vacuum. The initial idea will usually come to one person or a small group, who then have to share the possibilities. It’s then a matter of seeking ownership (“buy in”) and inviting participation (“active involvement”) from others in the group.
This isn’t always easy as not everyone will see the issues from the same point of view, nor will they be as concerned about why the changes are needed in the first place. Working together with others to achieve shared goals can be exhilarating: it liberates, encourages and achieves far more than individual effort. When it doesn’t happen or when it is forced, becoming an obligation not a offering, it can then be a very painful experience indeed.
Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.
It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.
(Harry S. Truman)
It is mainly the deeds of a love so noble that lead many to label us. "See," they say, "How they love one another" ... (and) "how they are ready even to die for one another!" (Tertullian)
Pause for thought
- Writing around 210 AD, Tertullian records the words used by non believers of the church. How might outsiders describe the church today? What are we particularly noted for?
- What do you understand by “Teamwork?”
- How does the bible encourage us to look beyond ourselves and build community? (Think of particular bible passages which may help us to understand God’s intentions –e.g. Proverbs 27:17, I Corinthians 12: 20 - 25)
It’s now or never. It may look good on paper and it might be well received by those committed to taking part but fancy graphics and rousing speeches aren’t enough on their own. The proof is in the pudding - every vision will be judged by the success (or failure) of the work.
On one level, everything has fallen into place. Nehemiah’s concern for His God, His city and His faith has moved the King. It’s international rescue at its best, all the natural resources he needs, letters to permit free passage across 700 miles of occupied territory and a security team to boot.
On the local scale, things are not as settled. Relying on others’ information, Nehemiah would have had his own view on what might be needed to rebuild the city. His trip around the walls would soon confirm his worst fears: the task was enormous and the window of opportunity small. At the same time, he’s faced by problems of a more personal nature. God’s plans clearly stand in the way of the agendas of some very powerful people who will do anything and everything to prevent the city from being rebuilt.
Please read Nehemiah 2 verse 19 to chapter 3 verse 32.
To think about:
The big picture
- Why do we get opposition to a plan which appears to be for the benefit of everyone? (see 2: 10, 19 – 20; 3:5)
- How can we overcome criticism where it is designed to raise doubts and divide the community?
- Baptists believe that we seek and discover God’s will as we meet, pray and reflect together. How might we encourage this positive approach taking note of how this impacts our Vision?
The big picture will only be complete once the finer detail has been addressed. Chapter 3 addresses this detail and, in the process, reminds us that real community depends on everyone’s contribution and their willingness to step beyond their comfort zone.
To think about:
- What strikes you about the way the community in Jerusalem sets about the task of rebuilding?
- Taking the positive lessons from this, how might we apply these at GHBC? What (if anything) needs to change for us to take these things on board?
- How can we encourage one another to become (and remain) involved, even when we may feel ill equipped for the work that needs to be done?
- What one thing could we do now to ensure that GHBC works better together to achieve the vision God has given us? Share this with the leaders!