Building a better future: getting people to work together.
God wired us to need each other — you can’t succeed on your own. Being able to work together with others is one of the most important skills you’ll ever develop. In this message, we highlight six steps for getting people to work together in pursuit of a God-given dream.
Something To Talk About:
- Divide the dream into smaller goals and tasks: Nehemiah broke down a huge dream into manageable chunks. Now, in the Contemporary English Version of Nehemiah, the Scripture, the word section is used 28 times in 32 verses. Repeatedly, it says the next section was built by so-and-so. Now, what’s a section? Well, a definition of a section is a smaller part of a whole. Now, Nehemiah had to think through how he was going to take this big goal, build a wall all around Jerusalem, and break it down into manageable chunks, into sections. That took some thinking. It took some planning. That’s the first step, divide the dream into smaller goals and tasks.
- Let others share ownership of the dream: We are talking about shared ownership. Your dream, if it’s ever going to be accomplished, must become our dream. Other people have to share in the dream for it to happen. Now, another key phrase that’s used many times in Nehemiah 3 is this phrase: “By his own house.” Verse 10, “Next Jedaiah son of Harumaph repaired the wall across from his own house.” Verse 28, “Above the Horse Gate, the priests repaired the wall. Each one repaired the section immediately across from his own house.” If you’re going to have a dream and it’s going to grow, you’re going to have to share ownership because you’re not paying everybody. Ownership increases motivation.
- Organize around natural relationships: If you have a dream and you’re going to get other people to help you with your dream, you need to create work groups that use relationships that already exist. We see this in verse 13. In Nehemiah 4:13, Nehemiah says, “I stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords.” In other words, people were working on a project together because they share the same ministry. In verse 3, we have a family-based work group. It says, “The Fish Gate was built by the sons of Hassenaah.” These are existing groups. The relationships are already there. It’s interesting that in this chapter, there are no professional builders mentioned in the building of the wall around Jerusalem. Everybody was a volunteer. Everybody was an amateur. Everybody had another career. Everybody is building the wall, working on the dream together without being paid. They’re all volunteers.
- Develop a team spirit: If you’re going to reach your dream, you’re going to have to get your friends or the people who are working with you to focus on cooperation, not competition. You cultivate community. You develop a team spirit on your dream team. How do you do that? By getting them to pay attention to those working alongside them. One of the reasons Nehemiah succeeded was because he created a team spirit. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says this: “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.” They get more done by working together. If one falls down, the other can help him up. And two can resist an attack that would defeat one person alone. What does God say brings honor to him? When we worked together. Not individually, but when we work together as a team to bring others to Jesus.
- Love everyone, but invest in the willing: This is the strategy of Jesus. Jesus loved everybody. There was no person that Jesus didn’t love. He fed the 5,000. He preached to the crowd, but He discipled 12 and He mentored three. See how it gets smaller. He loves everybody, but he spends the maximum amount of time with those who bear the maximum responsibility. The Bible tells us that only Peter, James, and John were brought into the Garden of Gethsemane a little bit further to pray with Him. So you love everybody, but you invest your life in the willing, those who want to help in the dream. Not everyone is going to want to be part of your God-given dream. Don’t worry about that. Nehemiah wasn’t discouraged by those who would not help. In fact, in this chapter, he just barely mentions their reluctance and he then keeps on focusing on those who did want to be a part. In Nehemiah 3:5 it tells us, “Next were the people from Tekoa, though their leaders refused to work with the construction supervisors.” We don’t know why they didn’t want to help. You don’t get upset by people who don’t want to help.
- Never ever stop saying thank you: Never stop saying thank you. The first duty of a leader is to clearly communicate your dream. But the second duty of a leader is to always say thank them. Live an attitude of gratitude. Live in the spirit of appreciation. Do you know that when you appreciate people, you actually raise their value? Every time you appreciate people, you raise their value. When you appreciate your kids, you raise their value. When you appreciate your spouse, you raise their value. When you appreciate a coworker, you raise their value. In Ephesians 1:16, Paul says this: ” I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly,” That’s a leader. Now, what does God want you to appreciate in other people? So recognize individuals. Call them by name. The sweetest thing people like to hear is their own name. Don’t just say, “I want to thank all of you.” Get specific. Identify specific people in your life who make a difference.
- Why do we so often want to do something ourselves rather than work with others?
- In what area have you been serving where your impact could be maximized by working with a team?
- Think of a dream for our church or a personal goal that may seem overwhelming. Discuss how you could divide it into smaller goals and tasks. How does this change your perspective about reaching your goal?
- What does organizing around natural relationships mean to you?
- Which dream or area of your life needs to be built for the first time, torn down and rebuilt, or repaired? Who comes to mind that could help you?
- Do you prefer to work alone or in a team setting? One of our core values is that we are “Better Together.” What are these verses in Ecclesiastes telling us about the benefits of working with others?
- Nehemiah 3:5 briefly mentions community members who chose not to contribute to the rebuilding. Often, we become frustrated with people who do not contribute to a project. What verses in scripture can help us overcome the temptation to judge and cope with associated emotions?
- Nehemiah specifically recognized and honored seventy-one individuals for their work. Share a time when a well-worded thank you from someone made a positive impact on you.
- Were there any suggestions from this sermon that really helped make your dream or goal seem more attainable? Why?
- How did this message challenge, change, or affirm your thinking?
Take one thing home with you:
The life you live is the legacy you leave. There are many people whose legacy will impact our lives, and more often than not, these great influences have no idea of the depth their impact has had upon us. We too have an opportunity to deeply impact others, to live a life that lasts. The question is whether we are pursuing or are we fleeing from our legacy. Each day is an opportunity to develop our story, define our legacy, and live our passion. We start asking questions like “what do I want my children to remember about me?” Or “when I am gone, what do I want people to say about my life as a Christian?”
Life is such a series of short interactions with people, and for some, we are the only glimpse of Jesus that they will ever see. That tells me that we need to make our short moments count with all people. That’s how you build a legacy that lasts.