God tends to open doors for ministry when you least expect it. The next door neighbor asks a question about your faith. The school near your church opens its doors for a ministry after a fire claims the chemistry lab. A coworker is going through a painful divorce and asks about your church. How do you get ready to help before help is needed? Nehemiah has some answers in this second study about leadership.
Be Ready when Opportunity Comes
1. What situations make you nervous or scared?
2. It has been four months since chapter one. What do you think Nehemiah has been doing in that time?
3. It had been about four months since Nehemiah had gotten the news of the sorry state of Jerusalem. Yet, he had not been sad in the presence of the king all this time. Why had he pretended to not be sad in all this time?
4. Can others read you like a book or is your heart under lock and key so that people struggle to read you? What strengths does each character trait provide? What weaknesses?
5. How does Nehemiah respond when he is asked what he wants? (2:4-5)
6. What do you imagine this prayer was like? What do we learn about prayer from this? (2:4) Contrast this prayer to the prayer in chapter 1. What do you learn?
7. The king asks Nehemiah what he wants. Look at Nehemiah’s response beginning in verse 5. What does this tell us about what Nehemiah has been doing (besides praying) over the last four months?
8. If someone were to offer to help you with the biggest problem in your church or life, what would you say? How much have you prayed about it up till now? Are you ready to let God bring a solution?
9. How did preparation before this moment help Nehemiah in what is ahead? (2:5-9)
10. Did Nehemiah get what he asked for? (2:9) What could Nehemiah have done without this help?
11. Let’s say that your church has a need and God was ready to gift your congregation with a memorial of $100,000 to help with that need. What have you learned from Nehemiah about being ready when God is ready to make a miracle happen?
12. The gracious hand of God was on Nehemiah. Did this mean a trouble-free life? See verse 10. What is the lesson for us?
Becoming a leader
Four principles of preparation
Changing hearts is God’s specialty 1:11 – We often try to change people to make them do our will. That is manipulation. It is far better to pray to the Lord about them. It may be a boss who doesn’t listen, a spouse who is being unreasonable, or someone who doesn’t want to work well with you. Talk to God about them. Find out what you can do in this situation and what you just have to wait for the Lord to do.
Praying and waiting go hand in hand 2:1 – You never really have prayed until you have learned to wait. It must be on God’s time and not yours. Let it go and let God change the situation. He has the power to do the miracles and the power to change hearts. It will be tough for it cuts across the grain of our human nature. You have to give up your homemade solutions and let God be in charge.
Faith is not a synonym for disorder or a substitute for careful planning. 2:5 – Leaders like Nehemiah think through the problems that they face. They may not be able to do everything now, but you know that they have brought everything before the Lord and have run through all the obstacles with God as well. Faith breeds organization. We can’t be irresponsible and think that God will somehow make everything work out well nor can we be ill prepared and expect God to work miracles so that great things happen when we have done very little to be ready.
The opposition will come if we carry out God’s will. 2:10 – If you do God’s will, there will be at least one person who will oppose you. You can’t let opposition scare you. You have to have prayed about the obstacles so that you can receive God’s encouragement before the problems come up. If you know that God is going to be with you, it is easier to have faith and to continue the project. You are certain God will not fail and that the obstruction is opposing God and not just you.