The Healthy Christian: Releasing Others to Their Destiny
From Nehemiah 2.11-19
Life isn’t all about me.
Unless I’m putting food in my mouth, putting my shoes on or brushing my teeth. Or is it?
Even my personal life touches others. I’ll drive the way I want to, thank you very much. If you’re self focused, you do things like that.
If your life is all about you, the fulfillment of your dreams, your personal passions, your schedule, your priorities, your circle; your life is way too small. That’s actually unhealthy, especially as a Christian.
We’re talking about the healthy Christian here. What are the factors that, when measured, indicate that you are not only a healthy human but a healthy Christian? One of them is this:
The healthy Christian releases others into their destiny. The healthy Christian looks for ways to empower and release others who will give life their own circle and repeat the process.
Sometimes well meaning people see this differently.
My Mother in Law, Robin’s mom, was an exemplary wife and mother. She was a great cook (to my joy) and housekeeper, a professional administrative assistant in a NY state agency. She raised three girls, along with my Father in Law. She loved her family and her girls. So she did everything for them. Cooked, cleaned, went to PTA meetings, to work and shopping.
Guess what happened when the girls grew up and became independent? They had no idea how to take care of themselves. Robin, for example, was never taught to cook. That was interesting when we were first married. She poured herself into learning, but along with me, who learned to cook mostly Boy Scout food, didn’t have a lot of variety. Rob is a book lover, so off to the library she went to teach herself how to cook.
Her mom, a great cook, never empowered any of the girls. So when they were forced to be independent, they were not well equipped. She did this out of love; but it was not long sighted and helpful. Why? Because you need to empower others. What she did was not a healthy approach.
Hopefully we’re all involved in something bigger than ourselves. Humility sees clearly that, while we might be able to do much, we can never do everything by ourselves.
I’m going to return to the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a great example of a healthy God follower, and he released and empowered others.
Where do we start?
11 So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode. 13 And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire.14 Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal under me to pass. 15 So I went up in the night by the valley, and viewed the wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. 16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the others who did the work.
Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem, being sent by the King of Persia. When he arrived he didn’t do much except one thing. He looked. He took a few days to assess the true conditions and see the challenges. He ends up taking an evening tour of what is left of the city and the city walls. So he came away with the first of the steps we all need to take if we’re healthy and releasing others.
1. Have a clear picture of how things ought to be.
You can’t just stay overwhelmed by the way things are. You have to have a clear idea of where we are AND where this is all going. A very real picture. This is where we are going.
2. Get the ear, the attention of others.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.”
What would it take for you to get the attention of the critical people in your life? Yell and scream? Stand on a chair and shout? Manipulate and control the conversation, dominate the landscape? No. A credible, sincere, convincing story will gain the attention of the right people.
3. Communicate the need for change in a compelling way.
Notice, there was no “I told you so” kind of message here. They already knew that this was the result of long term disobedience. Verse 17 is two sentences of pure hope!
4. Confirm that God is in this, how and why.
Eternal purpose and backing is the greatest reason for living and for doing. The Word and the Spirit are motivating! We often say that all we need to know, when it comes to taking something on, is whether or not God Himself has shown He is behind it.
And that needs to be communicated well. If you’re going to release others into their destiny, they need to know that God is with them.
Here’s how Nehemiah did it.
18 And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me.
So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to this good work.
Base your life on the Word of God and the Spirit of God.
5. Don’t paint a rosy picture; be real and transparent about the struggles to come.
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?”
Granted, this happened after the meeting we’ve been following, but did you see the “us” in that verse? They all heard of the problem and discussed this.
Sea turtle releases. There are some resorts in other countries that carefully collect and prepare sea turtle eggs for eventual release. A hatchery. Then guests get to be a part of the process. It’s best done at dusk or dawn, due to predators.
Empowering the people around you isn’t easy and their path won’t be easy. Tell them up front that there’s enemies all around. Hey, anything you do for God will be messy and opposed. But it will be worth it if you persist.
6. Take your hands off and let them go.
Neh 3.1 and 3.32
Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They built as far as the Tower of the Hundred, and consecrated it, then as far as the Tower of Hananel. And between the upper room at the corner, as far as the Sheep Gate, the goldsmiths and the merchants made repairs.
Nehemiah couldn’t have built the wall himself. Nor was he going to try. He empowered others to go and do it themselves. And they made it all the way around. They started at the Sheep Gate and ended at the Sheep Gate.
Was it perfect? Was it built the way that Nehemiah would have constructed it?
But Nehemiah gave oversight and encouragement, yes, but he empowered these folks to go. And they did.
Is your world and your purpose bigger than yourself?
Are you looking for people to release?
Are you giving others a vision of the future that’s way better than the present?
Are you turning people loose to fulfill their calling or are you keeping them bound because you do everything for them? Or you don’t open yourself to other people anyway? Servant-hood is a great characteristic, but that is not true servant-hood.
Healthy Christians do this. Because Jesus did this. And is doing this now.