Two weeks ago, we kicked off our series Distracted, exploring the question,

What is your great work?

The first week, we looked at the seedling of the idea God was implanting in Nehemiah to rebuild the City wall and gates of Jerusalem.

Last week, we looked at Nehemiah's path to Jerusalem by exploring his next step, which included a lot of faith.

Are You An Explorer?

My wife and I love National Parks, and we spent two weeks in the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and the Smoky Mountains for our honeymoon.

Each day, we had a rough agenda that included breakfast in a new place and then heading into the parks to see what beauty God had created and what animals we might encounter.

Each day, the majesty of the Grand Tetons revealed a new beauty that was not present the day or even an hour before.

One day while in Yellowstone, we stumbled across a young buck looking for a mate.

Another day, while visiting an old church in the Smoky Mountains, some bikers showed us a toddler bear that climbed a tree so quickly that we got an incredible picture of it looking at us.

Each day was a new adventure, and I think Nehemiah probably felt like an explorer as he slipped out under cover of the stars to see the devastation firsthand.1

Pursuing Your Great Work

As we saw last week, Nehemiah had found favor with the king and received permission and letters to travel to Jerusalem.

After his arrival, he went out at night to survey the landscape.

Why at night?

Because he was not distracted by people asking a lot of questions.

When we pursue our great work, we must carve out time, space, and margin to make the solutions visible.

After his survey, only then did Nehemiah reveal why he was in Jerusalem.

As the work commenced, the priests began the work followed by the people.2

Each person did the work across from their homes – building and rebuilding the walls.

Nehemiah rallied the people of Jerusalem to work on rebuilding the walls and gates.


The rebuilding of the wall did not come without its detraction moments. Sanballat said before his friends and the Samarian Army,

“Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that?”3

When detractors tried to confuse the rebuilders, Nehemiah went to God for strength and focus. He asked that the detractors would be thrown into confusion and they would be captured and taken to a foreign land.4

What happens when detractors come at you?

Detractors can be friends, work, enemies, well-meaning individuals, your family, or busy work. Nehemiah had one focus, rebuilding the walls and gates of Jerusalem.

When we lose focus, we lose our way. We need help to get back on track.

Next week, we will see that enthusiasm only lasts for so long, and when it gets tough, you need to remind yourself of the why behind your great work.

Encouragement and Challenge

Nehemiah was a master at breaking a large task into bite-size pieces to get the work accomplished. He didn’t have the latest tools, apps, smartphones, or planners; however, he did have a plan.

Each day they worked near where they lived – each taking sections and completing them. They focused on building habits each day to accomplish the greater work.

The folks over at The Sweet Setup had a great article on the benefit of habit trackers.

In the article, they focused on three areas for success:

  1. Keep showing up
  2. Keep focused on your great work
  3. Celebrate your success5

Nehemiah reminded the people of Jerusalem to do these three things – show up, do the work, and celebrate the progress.6

This week, when you feel like your motivation is fading for your great work, take a page out of Nehemiah and The Sweet Setup and do these three things – show up, do the work, and celebrate the progress.


Lord, thank you for the reminder of Nehemiah and the vision you instilled in his heart to rebuild the walls and gates of Jerusalem. Please give us the strength to show up, do the work, and celebrate our progress. Thank you for your goodness in our lives. Amen!

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  1. Nehemiah 2:11-20 ↩︎
  2. Nehemiah 3:1-8 ↩︎
  3. Nehemiah 4:2b ↩︎
  4. Nehemiah 4:4-5 ↩︎
  5. ↩︎
  6. Nehemiah 4:6 & ↩︎

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Hi, I'm Dave Anthold. I am a small group leader, short-term missionary, and visual storyteller. You can read my story here.

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