[by Sandy McIntosh] This is the first step in “What Nehemiah Did and How You Can Do Anything.” And you can do anything; just don’t move until you are on fire.
A few years ago I was called to a meeting at work where I was told that my position was terminated, and then someone from HR slid a piece of paper across the table. On the paper were the details of my termination settlement, which was very generous. I was one of many, but it felt personal.
Today my life is better; I have switched from career to contract work and I do less work for more money, with more freedom. Who can argue with that?
Back to the meeting, that was my liberation day but I wasn’t ready. The end of my career was a big shock and it took months to change my direction. I spent most of my termination money over the next year learning how to be a contractor. Like an old steam engine; no fire, no steam, no forward motion.
In the Bible, Nehemiah lived a good life working for the government. He also had a deep attachment to his nation, Israel, but that might have seemed like a hobby. He did not need to care.
One day he learned how bad things were back home in Jerusalem, and in his own words “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:4)
We know the end of the story; Nehemiah was eventually a complete success, one of those people who really made a difference in history.
Notice that Nehemiah’s success started with a dream, or a nightmare. He was emotionally ready to act.
Nehemiah started his impossible project with a personal conviction that was so intense, it caused severe stress. That’s the first step in all success, a burning desire for something better.
If you want to do anything great, you need to start with a burning sensation, and not action. I had a frustrating year trying to start something after my surprise dismissal.
Here’s what happened to me. One year in I got to the end of my finances as I worked on an idea I didn’t care about. Business was slow, so I had to take a part-time job to subsidize my tiny contracting business. If you are curious, I became a spare school bus driver. I soon became a driver trainer, and safety officer for a large transportation company, but that was not my goal. Eventually I developed some real passion about my dream, and moved on to where I am now, one year late. The burning passion was not with me when I lost my job. It was too easy to focus on my lost career instead of my new freedom.
There’s an old hymn “Only believe, only believe, all things are possible, only believe.” The old generation got some things right. We need to rediscover Christian project management that starts with passionate belief.
And now you; have you found some great impossible thing? Are you learning to care about it? You can never build a house without a foundation.
This is the passion of Nehemiah: “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel.” (Nehemiah 1: 5, 6)
With that fire, he didn’t really apply for the job. His boss the King noticed his attitude and gave him what he wanted.
The fire came first, the action came later.
Step one, burn now, act later.
Read more in this series:
- Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Nehemiah the Jew
- Oh those Americans
- Burn baby burn
- DMADV and other funny words
- Ride a donkey at midnight
- The Sad Siding Project
- The Putin ISIS War … and Nehemiah