What Nehemiah Did and How You Can Do Anything: chapter 2: Define What You Do
[by Sandy McIntosh] We can do great things, with the right tools. Nehemiah did impossible things that changed history, in a good way. His story shows us how to start.
Nehemiah was passionate about his nation and the city of Jerusalem, where the temple of God was, but he had a few deficits. He was a slave to the king, and probably an old man. He was probably also a “saris” a eunuch with no family. On the good side the emperor trusted Nehemiah and kept him as a top government employee. There were so many reasons to stay home and send someone else.
The action started like this:
“The king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”
I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” … “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” (Nehemiah 1: 2 to 6)
Nehemiah, the project manager for impossible things, started with a description. He was very emotional about conditions in Jerusalem, but when asked, he clearly described the issue. Most of us stop at emotion. If we are sold on something, we start. It’s enough that we feel strongly.
Nehemiah sold his project to the King, and he didn’t sell emotion, he presented hard information. Convince yourself, and then convince someone else.
Today we have a tool for building new things, DMADV. This is an action plan from a discipline called Six Sigma, and it means “Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify.” The Six Sigma people have given us a model based on common sense and experience, which we also see in the Bible story. Note that both models start with a definition.
Once the King was convinced, Nehemiah traveled to the ruined city to do exactly what he defined.
And now you and me; what impossible thing do you care about? Are you hoping that someone will make it happen? Check the mirror, you are someone. And Nehemiah’s God is still with us.
Have you heard of William Carey, the English shoe maker, with the illiterate wife and seven children? He tried to sail for India to be a missionary, with most of his family, including a brand new baby. They were all put off the ship in England, on orders from the British colonial authorities. He later snuck into India with a Danish captain.
William Carey, as a devout Christian, became the founding father of modern Christian missions. He also became one of the founding fathers of modern India. He bypassed the colonial authorities who wanted only to exploit India, and introduced education and social reform. India today is an emerging giant, something William Carey worked for.
Do you know why so many call centers are based in India? Because the country has so many educated young people. William Carey, in his religious work, introduced western education for the benefit of the common people, when others exploited and worked for corporate profit.
I skipped some details, but we know that before he sailed, William Carey clearly defined what he planned to do. That’s why they put him off the ship. The authorities knew exactly what he was up to. And that definition launched the success of the impossible project.
Here is a homework assignment. Describe what you want to do in three sentences or less. And then try to convince someone else that it’s a good idea.
Don’t start the work until you do.
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