One of the most wonderful things you will ever witness is when someone does the hard work of change.
It maybe the challenge of overcoming the grip of an addiction. It might be the rebuilding of a life after a serious traumatic experience.
I think of those I know who have very serious mental illnesses, yet push on, do the work, and make progress in their lives that is significant for them.
What are challenges you face?
Do you have a ‘mind to work’?
So many people don’t. Or they have a ‘mind to work’ that only goes so far. Only as far as it’s comfortable for them.
The core dynamic of change is to be willing to look bad in the presence of love. Larry Crabb
In the biblical story of Nehemiah we find a community who were on a rebuilding mission. The city had no secure wall of defence. In effect, they were a people who were vulnerable and broken.
In the very first chapter of this book we discover the people were described as being in ‘great trouble and shame’ to which Nehemiah sat down, wept, mourned, fasted and prayed.
Nehemiah then took action from this place of prayer and began the journey of rebuilding the walls and indeed the soul and heart of the people.
In chapter four we read that they were half way through the rebuild.
So we rebuilt the wall,
and all the wall was joined together to half its height;
for the people had a mind to work.
This verse has always intrigued me. So often I have met people who would like to have their life different yet seem to not have the ‘mind to work’.
They will take the journey of rebuilding so far but then they stop, give up, and walk away. They come to the place where it just gets too tough. Maybe they have to face up to things that they don’t want to.
When we look into this little phrase ‘a mind to work’ we discover some insights.
The Hebrew word used for this was ‘leb’ which describes the inner man, will, and heart. There was something deep within the people where the will and the heart found an energy and a purpose.
The Hebrew word here is ‘Asah’ which means to accomplish, to do or make. When I think of those wall builders I think of them with a passionate determination to build the wall. It wasn’t just a job, it was burning desire to accomplish something great.
The people had a heart to accomplish.
What creates in people a heart to accomplish? To push through the barriers in front of them.
What makes the difference?
- A Compelling Vision
I remember siting with a man who had a chronic gambling addiction. It was ruining his life and marriage.I had spent sometime praying for him and out of this prayer I wrote Vision Letter for him.In this letter I described what I felt Spirit (Holy) was showing me about him. What his future could be if he wanted God more than any lesser blessing.A glimpse of the man of integrity that was truly buried down underneath all thecompulsions.As I read it to him he wept. I gave him something of a gift he could hold onto.It was a belief in a better future, and that someone believed in him. That he could be different.
The compelling vision is . . . maybe, because of our conversations, we can want God more than we want any lesser blessing. Larry Crabb
So often we get mired down in the muck of our present situation that the mud turns to concrete and our minds lock us in.
A compelling vision is one that calls us to make the small millimetre steps of challenge and change. That things can be different, they don’t have to be like this forever.
I don’t believe this sense of vision can be generated from within ourselves.
This is why we need others. Most likely others who have been there done that and can hold a lamp of hope out for us. They cast a small seed of hope into our soul, it germinates and grows into a mighty oak.
This is what I believe Nehemiah did for those broken people.
- A Comradery of Shared Rebuilding.
When I was a child I attended a small country church which had a campsite at a local beach. It was a group of bunk rooms, a cook house and a meeting room.Often the men of the church would travel out to the camp and build, paint, dig drains and fix that water pump. As friends, family, and neighbours we would join together.The burden of the task was carried along by strength of our combined song. There was a comradery.
50 years later that camp still exists. I can show you the buildings my dad and others worked on.There was a compelling vision, but vision alone without a unity of heart will not accomplish much.
Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread. D.T. Niles
Nehemiah had the people work on the wall as neighbours and family.
For the man I described with the gambling addiction, it was attending a Gambling Anonymous group.
It was travelling with fellow strugglers, rebuilding, alongside him.
- A Collection of Resources.
A life cannot be rebuilt with just good intentions.That wall could not be rebuilt with out the raw material of stone and mortar. The campsite could not be built without wood, nails and paint. The man with the gambling addiction needed someone to help him get to the meetings.I write this third insight with a degree of caution because I have seen so many times well-meaning people rush to supply resources without a commitment to empowerment.They make the changing of a person’s life their personal responsibility.Having all the resources available will not necessarily mean life change.You can led a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. You can even make the water ice-cold and sprinkle rose petals on top but still the horse doesn’t have to take a sip.
This is where I see people in helping ministries burn out. They do all these supposed ‘good works’ yet the horse don’t drink and may just kick them where it hurts.
Nehemiah did what he could do and left the rest up to God and the people.
The stones and mortar were there. It was the people themselves who had to pick up the stones and get blistered, scared and scratched hands for the joy of the rebuild.
Here is the rub.
This is a three-legged stool for rebuilding off. You have to have all three legs. A compelling vision, the comradery of community, and a collection of resources. You can’t have just one or two. You have to have all three.
So, do you have a ‘mind to work’?
Questions to consider
- Do you have a compelling vision? One that allures you to make the changes.
- In your opinion, what gets in the way of people having a ‘mind to work’?
- So often we don’t need more information, courses, books. We need someone walking alongside. What do you think about this?
Quotes to ponder on
- Only those willing to stand close enough to listen will ever hear those closest to the problem. Jim Wallis
- Change always begins with some people making decisions based on hope, and then staking their lives on those decisions. Jim Wallis
- People change when they hurt enough that they have to, learn enough that they want to, and receive enough that they are able to John Maxwell
- A vision we give to others of who and what they could become has power when it echoes what the spirit has already spoken into their souls. Larry Crabb