Three-step plans for getting ahead and four-step plans for getting organized are as close as the Google search bar. But as a Christian, we should be more interested in God’s plans for our lives.
God’s word gives numerous examples of people who lived successful lives. One of the best examples of a great leader is Nehemiah.
Nehemiah’s life demonstrates an excellent model for spiritual and earthly success. He was a successful man.
Here’s the seven step plan to accomplishing big things according to Nehemiah:
Step One: Get a Burden
The story of Nehemiah begins in Shushan the palace of the Persian Empire. Nehemiah leads a comfortable life as the king’s cupbearer.
Then he hears from his brother how bad things are back in the Promised Land. Without walls to protect the city, the inhabitants of the once-blessed Jerusalem are at the mercy of their enemies.
Nehemiah’s heart breaks over this. God has given him a burden.
Perhaps a missionary talk will spark a burden for clothing children in the Philippines or educating children in Myanmar. Or a news story about a family whose home burned to the ground will create a burden to aid them.
Needs abound. More of God’s people need to see and accept a burden for them.
Step Two: Seek God through Repentance and Prayer
Nehemiah didn’t jump up and run to Jerusalem with his brother.
The first step after God lays a burden on our hearts is to seek his will. This starts with repenting of our shortcomings and praying for direction.
Step Three: Know the Right Opportunity
Opportunities to help other people are one click away in our digital age. Unfortunately, that often keeps us from finding the best opportunity for carrying out our mission in response to the burden on our heart.
Nehemiah’s opportunity came when he next served the king. His burden for Jerusalem was so heavy, Nehemiah couldn’t paint on a happy face and continue life as usual. And his boss noticed.
So I prayed to the God of heaven.Nehemiah 2:4b KJV
We would be wise to follow Nehemiah’s example and pray before blithely walking through every door of opportunity that opens in front of us.
Step Four: Go Big in Faith
Once God swung the door open, Nehemiah didn’t hesitate. He asked for big things from King Artaxerxes.
And because he trusted God, seeking God’s will and plan first, Nehemiah received more than he asked for. The king offered aid in the form of money, materials, workers, and protection.
Step Five: Be a Wise Planner
After making the four-month journey from Sushan to Jerusalem, Nehemiah took time to measure the scope of the task before him. He had committed to seeing the walls rebuilt, but that didn’t mean he had to jump in without a plan.
The same should be true for the things we undertake to further the Lord’s kingdom. Stepping out in faith does not mean blazing ahead without making careful plans and seeking proper support.
Too often, God-ordained plans for my life have flopped because I raced ahead of God, working my own plan.
Step Six: Face Enemies through God’s Strength
If you stand up to do something for the Lord, Satan will stand up to get in your way.
This is clearly shown in both Ezra and Nehemiah’s stories of rebuilding. In Nehemiah’s case, there were Gentiles who had been taking advantage of the vulnerability of Israel’s people, and they weren’t ready to let go of those easy pickings. As is often the case, there were people in Jerusalem who had been profiting from the poor state of things, too, and they needed to be set straight before the real work of rebuilding could begin.
It’s the same for us. When people who despise us object to our grand plans, we might cringe but we expect it. When our family and friends voice objections? We start to second-guess ourselves.
When you start working, expect the obstacles to start popping up. The good news? God can and will fight and defeat those who come against his plans.
Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.1 John 4:4 KJV
Step Seven: Don’t Let Distractions Stop You
When Nehemiah’s enemies couldn’t stop the work through hindrance and direct attack, they send more subtle messages. Because Nehemiah prayed without ceasing, he didn’t fall for their distraction tactics.
Our world overflows with distractions. Time is a finite resource. There are only so many hours in a day. That’s why we can’t afford to let our guard down.
Your day can be filled with urgent matters like cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring kids around, working your job, helping others, and participating in another activity. But if you allow those things to take over, you might find the important work you planned to do for the Lord in accordance with the burden he gave you remains undone.
If you haven’t visited the story of Nehemiah recently, take some time to read chapters one through six and keep a tally of how often Nehemiah prayed.
To complete an amazing task in fifty-two days, you’ll need plenty of prayer as you walk through Nehemiah’s seven step plan for success.