Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Need a Fresh Start?

Need a fresh start? This blog certainly does! So, one of my resolutions is to reignite the flame of the second chair blog.

I am currently doing a new series at our Crosspoint Campus,, called "Fresh Start: Lessons from the Life and Leadership of Nehemiah." I have placed the word, "Leadership" in the series title on purpose. The reason? Great question! Simply put, it is because of a lack of leadership in our lives that leads us to the place of needing a "Fresh Start." That lack of leadership could be self-leadership or leadership from an authority in our lives. What I am hoping to convey to our congregation in this series is the entire process that must take place so that a "Fresh Start" takes hold to become a permanent change.

Do you need a "Fresh Start" in an area in your life? Might there be a lack of leadership:
  • physically -- are you eating right and exercising consistently?
  • spiritually -- are you spending time with God on a consistent basis?
  • relationally -- are you investing in key relationships continually?
  • financially -- are you wisely spending and saving, or is there a lack of discipline that is leading to financial challenges or trouble?
  • professionally -- are you correctly navigating the paradoxes of second chair leadership? Are you certain that you are where you need to be in this season or is it time to move on?

If you need a "Fresh Start" in one of these areas, consider this process:

1. Look Back at the Context! There is a context that will inform us of a failure in leadership. For Nehemiah, the context that informed him was the failure of three kings (2 Chronicles 36) that led to the Babylonian invasion of 605 and the desolation of Solomon's temple and the walls and gates of Jerusalem, the city of God. Examine the context of the leadership failure. Allow it to fully inform your reality.

2. Face Reality! Call it for what it is. In Nehemiah 1, this emerging second chair leader called Israel's failure exactly that, sinful failure to keep up their end of the deal. He named it, repented of it, and asked for an opportunity to do something about it.
3. Envision a New Reality! Nehemiah captured God's heart for God's city and began to envision it. As a matter of fact, he envisioned it for 4 months (Kislev or December to Nisan or April) before he set out to approach King Artaxerses. A great read on this discipline is Andy Stanley's book Visioneering (Multonomah, 2000). What could a new reality be for you? Weight loss and health? Savings in the bank? Renewal of a marriage? Dream big my friend, dream big!
4. D.R.I.V.E. -- the Pursuit of the New Reality! We must develop a process of discipline that expresses our faith to successfully pursue a new reality. D.R.I.V.E. is an acronym from Mike Slaughter's book, Momentum for Life (Abingdon Press, 2005), that highlights a process of daily discipline that will sustain our momentum forward. Frankly, that is what we need, sustained momentum. I know it is what I need! What about you? Is there a process that you own and live by that will sustain your momentum of a fresh start that it might become a permanent fixture in your life?

If you are at all interested in listening to the audio of this series, click and follow this link. The messages are accessible on the bottom right portion of the web page. The message link is:

Happy Fresh Start!


Tammy said...

I am loving the book "Leading from the 2nd Chair". It has been a pivotal resource for me, so I began digging around the website when I ran across this blog on Nehemiah. In April this year I was challenged to study the book of Nehemiah and I poured myself into it mainly focusing on the first 4 chapters. I wanted to share some insights I had with you and thank you for continuing to inspire, guide and direct 2nd chair leaders.

Written: April 15, 2008

The name Nehemiah means the Lord has comforted. Nehemiah was a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. Warren Wiersbe describes that position of cup bearer as one of great responsibility and privilege. Nehemiah had the responsibility of taste testing the king’s wine to make sure it was not poisoned. Since he was that close to the king it is likely that Nehemiah was cultured, knowledgeable in court procedures, and handsome. He had to be able to converse with the king and advise him if he asked. Because of his access to the king this made him a man of great influence which he could choose to use for good or evil. Nehemiah was Jewish and he could have joined the remnant back in their land, but he chose to remain with the king in Susa. It was there that God had called him for such a time as this. Esther, who was also a Jew, also chose to stay at the side of a king in Susa for the purpose that God would have her fulfill. When God has a plan he strategically prepares and positions people in just the right place at just the right time so that His plan and purpose can be fulfilled.

Now comes the pivotal time in Nehemiah’s life when holy discontent is birthed. He runs into his brother Hanani, who just returned from Jerusalem, and asks him about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile. This I believe is where we often miss our opportunities. We often look for that grand calling from God, for the light show, for the neon lights of heaven to appear and a loud voice to trumpet our name. It was not that way at all for Nehemiah it was an ordinary day in the midst of an ordinary conversation with his brother when a seed of holy discontent was planted into Nehemiah’s spirit. What a reminder to keep our hearts open even in the ordinary for God’s providential leading. Time and time again God does the extraordinary in ordinary people on ordinary days. I wondered when reading this why Nehemiah would even ask about the people of Jerusalem. He was a cupbearer to the king, but that did not matter he was Nehemiah, the Lord has comforted, inside him dwelled caring and compassion that went beyond his earthly position or title. This caring and compassion was sewn into his DNA for such a time as this. It is out of holy discontent that purpose is birthed. Nehemiah was in mourning, prayer and fasting over this holy discontent allowing it to stir in his spirit. A burden had been placed on his heart for Jerusalem, one that he refused to ignore. The lesson, don’t ignore the things that break our hearts, but to allow it to break our hearts. Out of that pain we may be called for such a time as this. It is also a reminder that God calls his people to purpose for things that they have passion for. Christ did not come for those that are healthy He came for the troubled and disgraced just like the people of Jerusalem. He came for those who are broken, whose walls of protection have been torn down, whose gates have been burned, those that are ridiculed and attacked, just like Jerusalem. Here is the question: Does your heart break for those God has called you to serve? If it does than do not run from it or ignore it because if you do you could miss the blessing that God has planned for you. If the breaking of your heart causes you to weep like Nehemiah wept then know that those tears were planned by God it is His way of watering the seeds that He has planted in our path. Without the tears the seeds would not get watered, they would not grow, and fruit would not be produced. Nehemiah spent days fasting, weeping, and praying he knew that someone had to do something to rescue Jerusalem, and he was willing to go.

Besides the tears that Nehemiah shed it says that he prayed. The book of Nehemiah opens in prayer and closes in prayer. In this book alone there are 12 instances of prayer. This is an obvious and powerful statement of the importance of prayer. From the beginning of Nehemiah’s prayer in the first chapter he recognizes the awesome power and authority of God. He did not run to the king, but instead he bowed down and called on the one true King, the ultimate authority, the promise keeper, the one who loves His people. Then he confesses and repents of the sins of himself and his people. Nehemiah repented because he believed in God’s promise to forgive. In Nehemiah 1:8-9 he reminds God in of the promise he made to Moses, “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if you exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.” Nehemiah understood that God would hear his prayers and would be faithful to his promises. He knew that he could not rebuild Jerusalem, but he had faith that God would work on his behalf because God is a promise keeper. It was this faith in God’s promises that began to define Nehemiah as a leader. A leader is not only people who believe and obey and then courageously move ahead, but they also challenge others to go with them. You really can’t be a leader without followers and Nehemiah had the gift to challenge people to go with him. In reading the story of Nehemiah you can just see how God is preparing him and because of how he handles it he can do it with the blessing of God. Many times people plan a project and begin the project and then ask God to bless them and the project. Nehemiah first wept, then knelt down and prayed, and then he stood up and worked because he knew that he could not do it without God. It was during the time of prayer that Nehemiah began to understand what God was up to. Prayer keeps your heart and your head in balance so your holy discontent or burden does not make you impatient to run ahead of the Lord and ruin everything.

Again thank you,

Anonymous said...

Tammy - thanks for the encouragement. May the Lord bless you as you walk in Holy Discontent! It is a powerful force and God will use the frustration of today to fuel us toward tomorrow.

Thanks for the word on Nehemiah. What a great leader and man of God! I want to invite you to listen to the series I did on it via the web link in my initial post. I trust it will be an encouragement to you as you serve in the second chair. Thanks for the kind words about the book!