What do you think of when you hear the names Corrie Ten Boom, Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, Jim and Elisabeth Elliott, or Billy Graham? What comes to my mind is that they each made a difference with their lives, a difference of eternal significance. Most of us, in all likelihood, will not be big names like that, but we can still make a difference with our lives.
Nehemiah is a great example of someone who made a difference. As I studied the first two chapters of Nehemiah, I noticed ten things he did that enabled him to make a difference. He gives us a great example to follow.
1. Look beyond. (Nehemiah 1:1-3)
It’s so easy to get tunnel vision and focused on what’s going on in my small circle of life that I never look beyond my “world.” Nehemiah looked beyond his comfortable setting and saw the needs outside. His heart was burdened, and he stepped out to do something about it.
- Do I look beyond what’s going on in my life and see the bigger picture of what’s going on?
2. Commit to prayer. (Nehemiah 1:4)
Nehemiah was burdened for Jerusalem, and he committed himself to prayer – not just occasional prayer, but faithful, consistent prayer for four months, night and day.
- Am I a faithful, fervent prayer warrior?
3. Focus on who God is. (Nehemiah 1:5)
Nehemiah faced a situation he knew he couldn’t solve or fix by himself. But he also knew nothing is impossible with God. So he went before God in prayer and focused on His attributes.
- Do I believe God is big enough to do the impossible if it’s according to His sovereign plan?
4. Stay humble. (Nehemiah 1:6-7)
He humbled himself before God and acknowledged He was God’s servant, confessing his sin and the sin of his people. It’s so much easier to put the blame on someone else and we’re often tempted to make ourselves look better than others, but Nehemiah didn’t do that. He included himself as part of the problem. Even though he was in a position of prestige and honor, he humbled himself.
- Do I let pride convince me I’m better than others?
5. Stand on the promises of God. (Nehemiah 1:8-11)
Nehemiah “reminded” God of His promise to Moses. He knew God’s Word and believed God would be faithful to do what He said He would do.
- Do I believe God is faithful to do what He says He will do?
6. Wait on God’s timing. (Nehemiah 2:1)
Nehemiah didn’t jump out prematurely and try to take things into his own hands, but instead waited on God’s timing. He waited four months before saying anything to the king as he prayed, and God used that time to prepare both Nehemiah and the king for the day Nehemiah would present his request.
- Do I get impatient with God’s timing and try to take things into my own hands in my timing?
7. Take risks. (Nehemiah 2:1-2)
Nehemiah was willing to take a risk by going before the king and asking for something that seemed impossible, apart from God’s hand. He was willing to show his true emotions to the king, even though that could cost him his job or his life.
- Am I willing to take risks regardless of the potential outcome?
8. Boldly ask. (Nehemiah 1:11; 2:4)
He boldly prayed for something he knew he wouldn’t be able to accomplish on his own. He boldly asked for something from the king that could have had negative consequences, but he still asked.
- Do I ask boldly of God and man, or do I assume it would do no good to ask?
9. Do my part. (Nehemiah 2:6-8)
Nehemiah did his part to be ready to answer questions when he went before the king. He knew what was necessary to make things happen.
- Am I doing my part of what God wants me to do while He’s working?
10. Give the glory to God. (Nehemiah 2:8)
Nehemiah knew his success depended on God’s help. He didn’t pat himself on the back for being a great prayer warrior, or for being so smart, so wise, so prepared. He gave the glory entirely to God.
- Do I tend to take credit for something God did?
Nehemiah made a difference of eternal significance with his life. We can too. Will we?