Nehemiah’s Model for Creating an Inspiring Mission

December 3, 2013

I want to encourage you to create an inspiring mission for your city, nonprofit, church, or company. Why? Because in my experience I know that when you create an inspiring mission good things happen because people want to get involved and help.

My goal is for you to learn how to create an inspiring mission. As you may know I have experience running nonprofit programs, leading volunteers, and fundraising money to help make a difference in communities.

Nehemiah’s Model for Creating an Inspiring Mission

Photo Credit: TownePost Network

In 2005 I started a nonprofit program that fed more than 5,000 people in five years. Additionally, I worked at the United Way of Stanislaus County for six years raising funds to support community and coordinating volunteer groups. Together I’ve spent eight years working to improve the communities I’ve worked in, mostly through the nonprofit industry.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed doing over the past two years is studying the biblical book of Nehemiah in light of the work being done to transform and improve communities. Through this study I have observed some things Nehemiah did that can be transferred to our current context and cities. I would like to share with you just one principle that you can do and when you do do it, it can transform your city.

Let’s look at the book of Nehemiah to read two verses and see what it can teach us about how to be leaders who transform the city we live in. But, before we look at those two verses, let me start with a story.

Jerusalem and Judah’s Past History of Influence and Success

The story is about the nation of Judah and its capital city, Jerusalem.

Judah was seen as the nation whom had the true God. However, under the kingship of Solomon, Judah began to sin. For many years the nation of Judah—God’s chosen people—had been sinning and doing terrible things:

  1. Worshipping false gods/idols.
  2. Sacrificing their children to those gods.
  3. Prostitution.

As a result, God allowed king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to conquer the city of Jerusalem in 586 BC which meant:

  • 60,000-80,000 Jews were taken back to Babylon as captives.
  • The worship temple, gates of the city, and walls were torn/burnt down.
  • This was a disgrace to the people of Judah and those living in the city of Jerusalem.

For the first time in centuries, Judah’s God, Yahweh, was no longer seen as the powerful God in control.

The nation known as God’s chosen people, the one’s he had led, guided, and been with for thousands of years had been conquered and taken away from God’s city, country, and promised land. This was an enormous amount of psychological trauma for them to endure.
Fast forward 140 years and we find ourselves in the context of Nehemiah.

Nehemiah’s context for the city of Jerusalem was that it’s walls were still burnt to the ground and the gates were still destroyed.

Knowing that his city, Jerusalem, was still in disarray. Nehemiah is offered a small window of opportunity to possibly return to Jerusalem. And, he takes advantage of it. Nehemiah gets permission from the king of Persia to travel to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and gates of the city and he arrives with the materials he needs and protection in order to get there.

Nehemiah surveys the city for three days getting settled and surveying the city, he decides to share his mission with the people of Jerusalem.
Up till this point in time, Nehemiah had not told anyone about his plans for the city. Not even the priests, nobles, or officials of the city knew why he was there.
Nehemiah says to them:

“You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” . . . They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work. – Nehemiah 2:17-18

And as you may know, they did rebuilt the gates and walls of the city in only 52 days.

A few observations about Nehemiah creating and sharing an inspiring mission for the city of Jerusalem

  • He took initiative. He didn’t want for anyone else to do it. He asked the king if he could go to Jerusalem. He asked the king for the materials he needed. He asked the king to provide protection for the travel. He went to the city. He did rebuild the wall.
  • He showed them what was possible. He told them how God had been so gracious to him in the presence of the king.
  • He said “let’s.” He knew that he could not rebuild the wall alone. He was going to rebuild the wall with them. He knew that city transformation had to be done together. Nehemiah would work alongside them the entire time with his time and with his money.
  • He prayed. Nehemiah prayed when hearing the news, when sharing his desire with the King of Persia, during the work, when the work was done.

3 things you must do to create an inspiring mission for your city, nonprofit, church, or company

1. Short – One sentence or less

  • Nehemiah’s inspiring mission short: “Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace” (v. 17).
  • An example of an exciting mission from A Day of Hope: to provide hope and encouragement to families in need for Thanksgiving.
  • An example from United Way: we fund programs that serve people in need in Stanislaus County.

2. Exciting – Show how you want to change lives and transform others/city

  • Nehemiah wasn’t the first person with the idea to rebuild the wall. Many people had a desire in their heart to do it. Nehemiah didn’t create the excitement, he just shared a mission that grabbed the excitement they already had and he worded it in a way that they believed they could do it
  • Because the people were motivated to end the disgrace they found themselves in, this mission was exciting for them.
  • The people wanted the city back to the way it was.
  • An example of an exciting mission from A Day of Hope: to provide hope and encouragement to families in need for Thanksgiving.
  • An example from United Way: we fund programs that serve people in need in Stanislaus County

3. Memorable – It’s okay for a mission to rhyme, use similar words, or be an alliteration if helps it be more memorable

  • The people of Judah knew that if they could rebuild the wall, their decendents would always remember that it was them. This was a chance to make history because they were faced with the leveled walls every day.
  • An example of an exciting mission from A Day of Hope: to provide hope and encouragement to families in need for Thanksgiving.
  • As good and important as you think your work is, not everyone is going to be as passionate bout your project as you are. So, when you have a clear and succinct mission, it becomes easy for the people who want to help to opt in and the people who don’t to not get involved.
  • When you have a mission that is short and succinct it allows you to talk about your program/org in a way that helps others know what you are doing, thus allowing them to figure out if they want to help.

My question for you.

How can you create an inspiring mission for your city, nonprofit, church, or company? How can you create a mission that is:

  • Short
  • Exciting
  • Memorable

Question: How can you create an inspiring mission for your city of Lodi, your nonprofit, your church, or your company?

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I also may have received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."