Tag Archives: Nehemiah 3

Labor for the Good of the Whole

The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors.
Nehemiah 3:5 (NIV)

Over the years I’ve come to learn that there are three issues that create more marital issues than any other: money, sex, and the division of labor. Each of these marital land mines contains a potentially explosive form of relational power and/or control that can be exhibited in both passivity and aggression. I have found that most couples somewhat expect the conflicts around money and sex, but the division of labor often catches them by surprise.

How we go about dividing roles and responsibilities for the everyday tasks of life together can be as unique as the individuals involved. I’ve found that there are all sorts of elements that factor into both the conflicts and the resolutions including history (how it was modeled in our homes growing up), personalities (and the respective concern with order and detail), giftedness (the ability or lack of ability to do certain things well), interest (one person’s desire/need to have things done a certain way), character (the willingness of an individual to work for the good of the whole), and spirit (the willingness to submit my needs/desires for the sake of my partner).

In today’s chapter, Nehemiah describes all of those who pitched in to help repair the walls of Jerusalem. Different individuals and groups took responsibility for certain sections of the wall that surrounded the city. What stood out in his list is the one group of “nobles” (the Hebrew word used here means “magnificent” or “mighty”) who refused and were unwilling to throw their back into the manual labor. Nehemiah’s calling them out points to an issue of character. The nobles of Tekoa appear to have been unwilling to work.

In the quiet this morning I find myself thinking about the work required for the success of a marriage, a home, a team, a business, and/or a community. I’ve observed on many levels that when an individual and/or group refuse (or are not required) to get their hands dirty in the grunt work required for the well-being and success of the whole, then a chain reaction of issues are likely to be set of which will strain the system and may even threaten to destroy it.

I am reminded of the words of King David to his son, Solomon, whom his father tasked with the construction of the temple that the exiles we’re reading about rebuilt. It’s become a life verse for me:

“Be strong, and courageous, and do the work.”

King David (1 Chronicles 28:20)

Which reminds me. I have work to do. And, I imagine you do too. All the best to you in your labor this day, my friend.

Takin’ Care of Business

Then the high priest Eliashib set to work….
Nehemiah 3:1a (NRSV)

[cue: Takin’ Care of Business by Bachman-Turner Overdrive]

You get up every morning from the alarm clock’s warning…”

…walk through the kitchen and head upstairs.

I have labored in a non-traditional work environment for the past 22 years. My company has never had a traditional bricks and mortar location for our business. Every member of our group works from home. It has always been this way since our founder started the company in his own home. Our staff meetings began around his kitchen table.

Over the years we’ve had many group members who have struggled with working from home. Some, after trying it for a time, have opted to move on to a traditional job where they “go to work” in the morning and “come home” at night, which I totally get. I have had to forge a more non-traditional approach to finding the balance between work and personal life when they co-exist in the same space.

One of the qualities I’ve had to develop in my life is self-discipline. Our team operates on weekly, monthly quarterly, and annual project deadlines for our clients. The work has to get done and his has to get done on time. If I don’t set to work on a regular basis then I’m going to find myself in a world of hurt. And, I confess that a certain amount of my self-discipline development has come from learning the hard way.

In today’s chapter I was struck by the sheer number of people who were mentioned in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. The project took a host of people who “set to work.” Many took responsibility for the sections of the wall near their homes and/or businesses. It wasn’t left for others. It wasn’t hired out. The work wasn’t placed on the back of slaves. High priests, rulers, officials, businessmen, and laborers all set to work.

This morning I’m reminded of the value of setting to work. I observe a world and a culture that is constantly trying to get out of having to do anything. The temptation to procrastinate never goes away, and there is so much value in the simple discipline of getting the job done. Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful, but there aren’t enough people willing to do the work.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have some business to take care of.