Finding the Strength to Finish What We Start


When we pass our pursuits through Nehemiah's filter, we'll start fewer things ... but we'll finish those things which matter the most!

Do you feel pulled in many directions and some days have trouble choosing where to aim your time? Do you have a number of projects started but unfinished, and they hang around your neck like a lead weight?

For me, I say yes to both. Yet, in my recent study of Nehemiah, I was reminded that when we choose a God ordained task we can find the energy and focus to see it through.

As a (slowly) recovering yes-aholic, I understand that I must carefully choose what I say “yes” to. Too often in the past, I have agreed to do something, only to deliver poorly, miss deadlines and stress myself out. Meanwhile, I leave something extremely significant, like intentionally raising my boys to be godly young men, in shambles.

In Nehemiah, he said yes to something (and not a small, take-out-the-trash something), yet never wavered until the task was finished. How did he do it?

To get the most out of Nehemiah’s example, go read the first six chapters of Nehemiah.

Briefly: Nehemiah felt such a strong burden to help Jerusalem that he quit his comfy job and risked his life to lead them back into God’s will. His first mission, the rebuilding of the wall, was completed in just 52 days, against a backdrop of significant threat and opposition.

The lessons I harvested from Nehemiah’s follow-through:

  1. Nehemiah was deeply burdened. He had never even been to Jerusalem, but when he learned of their plight, he had an inescapable urge to help. What do you feel burdened and deeply passionate about? Where is there a work to be done that you cannot stop thinking about – your marriage, kids, some mission or cause?
  2. Nehemiah confessed his own sin. Nehemiah knew that before he could be a rescuer, he needed to be rescued.

Prior to riding in atop his noble steed, he needed to shovel out the barn of his own heart. What mess in your life do you need to confess before embarking on the mission?

  1. Nehemiah prayed and fasted. He did not jump in willy nilly without first seeking God’s will. He dropped to his knees and sought God’s direction. What areas of your life are you humbly laying before God? What “wall” is He askingyou to rebuild?
  2. Nehemiah used his noggin. Four months passed from when he learned of the problem until he had an audience with the King to ask for help. When the moment came, he had specific requests (access, resources, time off). Clearly, he used the in-between-time to plan for his opportune moment. What resources do you need or whose help do you seek? Are you readying yourself for “the ask” when and if it comes?

Space here prevents me from listing others, but there are more: he gathered needed resources, inspired others to join him, resisted opposition, etc. Go check it out. I like David Guzik’s take: “Nehemiah’s reaction went beyond an immediate emotion. Many times a concern will come over us in a flush, and then quickly pass. But if it is from the Lord it will abide and grow and the burden will remain until the problem that prompted the burden is solved.”

Consider passing your life’s pursuits through Nehemiah’s filter. I think that as we do this we will start fewer things but finish those that matter most.

For us husbands and fathers, we know that at least those two areas need our constant prayer, attention and passion. Beyond that, what burdens has God laid on your heart? Does your to-do list or calendar reflect the intentional pursuit of those things?

By Kent Evans

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