"The God of heaven will give us success" (Ne 2:20)
Coming "Crashing" Back Down
We're working through how we grow as individuals and as a church through this blog series. We're working through a Theory of Intentional Change (ICT), and finding how Nehemiah's God-led change initiative - rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem - seems to dovetail really well with this theory. It makes sense - God's wisdom for personal change is unparalleled, and we're always finding modern insights that simply concur with his ancient wisdom.
In esGetting beyond being "crashing" into your personal realitysence, ICT suggests that personal or group change happens through a series of non-linear (i.e. not one-after-the-other) discoveries. Discovery one, covered last week, was discovering the ideal self (or group) - the person or people we want to, or as Christians, are called to become. This week, we come "crashing" back down to the reality of who we are right now!
The Not So Fun Discovery
Dreaming about the future, or growing in understanding who we are in Christ, is very inspiring. Having to wrestle with the pain-points and reality checks of who we are right now is not so much. But, for intentional change to take place, you have to wrestle with, and get a good understanding of, where you are now. It stands as a self-evident truth that if you want to go in a certain direction, charting the wisest and best course of action requires a good understanding of where you are right now. Hence, the second discovery of ICT.
Nehemiah didn't fear asking these questions
Nehemiah knew he had to get a good understanding of the current situation for the city of Jerusalem. He couldn't afford to be naive if he was going to lead a successful rebuild. We can't afford to be naive about our current reality if we are going to grow as individuals and as a church. Key questions to ask in this particular discovery phase are:
Where am I closer to my called self - in Christ - than not? These are your strengths, areas where the grace of God is clearly at work.
Where am I further away from my called self - in Christ - than not? These are your areas of weakness, areas where you need to seek God for His grace and wisdom on.
In essence, you are looking to do a personal SWAT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. Here is a resource to check-out if you are keen to go further - you'll find a list of questions to ponder that will draw out of you much more self-awareness than you might otherwise have found.
Nehemiah's SWAT Take-aways
What did Nehemiah's SWAT analysis look like? Reading Chapter 2, from verse 11 onward:
He spent a short period of 3 days doing his initial inspection of the state of the walls of Jerusalem (vs.11). Key take-away: we don't need endless amounts of analysis on the state of our brokenness. Just enough to get a good picture where God's grace needs to go to work to rebuild us.
He took only "a few others" with him (vs.12). Key take-away: We don't need endless numbers of people advising us on our strengths and weakness, but we need a trusted few. Who are your trusted few who you can ask - what are my personal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, from your perspective?
He did not beat around the bush with the situation before him; it was a "bad situation", "desolate" and the need was to rebuild so as to "no longer be in disgrace." (vs.13) Key take-away: One of the biggest challenges we have as humans is the tendency to underplay our weaknesses and overplay our strengths. Biblical wisdom is humility - to be honest with ourselves. As you do your personal SWAT analysis, don't over or under-play yourself - just be as honest as you possibly can be.
He had a clear sense of God being with him (vs.18). Key take-away: Jesus is God with us (Matthew 1:23), as we pursue His purpose for our lives (Matthew 28:18-20). Any personal SWAT analysis we do must be put in the context of this biblical promise and truth.
He did his analysis with a hopeful purpose - to rally the people of Israel to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, which they did (vs.18). Key take-away: we must not lose sight of our purpose; we are called to grow into the fullness of who we are in Christ, nothing less and nothing else.
He refused to be intimidated by the resistance and opposition that is inevitable when we choose to grow and rebuild (vs.20). Key take-away: The God of heaven wants to give us success in growing in Him, no less than he gave Nehemiah success in his call to rebuild.
This week - do two things
Seriously, there is no time like right now to do this. Here's two things to do this week:
Do a personal SWAT analysis, using the questions in the linked article above from MindTools as your key resource.
Take these questions to 2 other people, and do this same SWAT analysis - you asking the questions, and ask these trusted advisers for their honest answers.
You'll experience a much greater personal clarity on where you are at right now, and further, you'll experience a sense of clarity around where you are wanting and needing to grow from. Getting a clear starting-point is crucial to making a most accurate and helpful journey to your final destination in Christ.
Written by Ps. Rob