Now that we have addressed the questions: ‘where do we begin?’ and what does it take?’ we will now examine Nehemiah chapter three and consider the question, ‘how do we do the work?’
Nehemiah chapter three is a fascinating testimony of the leadership and organizational skills of Nehemiah. As you read through the chapter you will find that Nehemiah organized the work into forty some sections each with work crews that are organized by common interests, skills, and geography. Nehemiah’s oversight of this work is similar to what we see in the responsibilities of the pastor of a local church.
In the New Testament we find two basic offices of the church: pastors, and deacons. The pastor is described by three terms: bishop, elder, and pastor. The term ‘bishop’ means ‘overseer’. The pastor is the overseer of the life and ministry of the church. The term ‘elder’ refers to maturity, in particular ‘spiritual maturity.’ The pastor is to be one who is spiritually mature, knowledgeable of the scriptures, and is skilled in communicating the truth of God’s Word. The term ‘pastor’ basically means ‘shepherd’. As shepherd the pastor is to lead the flock, teach the flock, protect the flock, and care for the flock. The primary responsibility of the pastor is seen in Ephesians 4:11-16. The pastor has the responsibility of equipping the church for the work of the ministry. He is to do so by teaching sound doctrine, providing training in various ministry skills, and to strategically place individuals in places of service. This means that the pastor does not do all the work himself. I look at the pastor as a good ball coach. He develops a plan and a strategy that will lead the team to success. He places team members in the right places that is beneficial to the whole team. This placing of team members in the right places are based on the giftedness and skills of the team members. He then teaches and trains each member of the team. He teaches and trains by example, showing them how they should fulfill their responsibility. He also nurtures and cares for each member of the team and treats them like family. This is exactly what the pastor of the local church is to do. The pastor should not be expected to do all the work; however, as part of the church, we are to follow the pastor’s lead and allow ourselves to be equipped for the work that we are called to do.
1 Timothy 3:1-7 talks about the qualifications of the pastor. It should be noted that in verse one, the one who desires the office of bishop or pastor, ‘desires a good work.’ This desire for the work is placed in the man whom God has called by the Holy Spirit of God. I firmly believe that being a pastor is a calling. A man is not simply called to preach, he must be called to pastor if that is truly God’s plan for his life. If a man is called to be a pastor, he will be one who meets the qualifications listed in verses 2-7. God will also equip and prepare the man for the work. God will then place the man in strategic places where he can best serve and receive the needed experience to enhance the work to which he is called.
The key that we see in the life of Nehemiah is that for any great work to be accomplished there must be a God-called and God-equipped leader to organize and oversee the work. A church cannot survive very long without a pastor. A church that finds itself without a pastor will eventually be in limbo with everyone doing what they think is right in their own eyes which leads to disruption of the work and the decline of the church. Therefore, it is necessary that every local church have a pastor that they relate well to and that is a good fit for the church in order that the church can follow the man that God has called and be led to do great things for the kingdom of God.
As Nehemiah begins the process of fulfilling the vision of rebuilding Jerusalem he strategically places the people in the right places in order for the work to be accomplished. Nehemiah also works side by side with the people giving them the encouragement that they need to carry on with the work. As we consider this action by Nehemiah, there are several lessons that we learn.
Every person has God-given talents and abilities. No matter who you are, God created you with a purpose. God has a specific plan for your life. With that plan God has given you certain talents and abilities in order to carry out that plan. He has also strategically placed you in a place that is suitable for you to carry out what God has for you. For example, it is no coincidence that you were born in the family that you were born into. Many of the skills that you have was passed down to you from your parents. Where you live also has a bearing on how you fulfill God’s plan for your life. The bottom line is that you are unique and special. God has a unique and special plan just for you. No two people are exactly alike. God will use you in ways that is specifically and strategically tailored both for your good and for the benefit of others. No matter who you are, there are certain talents and abilities that God has specifically given to you for a purpose.
Every believer has God-given spiritual gifts. Along with the talents and abilities that God has given to you, if you are a born-again child of God, you have also be given certain spiritual gifts. Notice what the scripture says in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. Spiritual gifts are given to us by the Holy Spirit. They are more than just talents and abilities. They are character traits that combined with our skills and abilities give us the ability to do great things for God. I believe that we should desire to have all the gifts available by the Holy Spirit. I also believe that the Holy Spirit gives us certain gifts at certain times as we need them. It is important that we regularly examine our lives to see what gifts the Spirit has given to us and then based on those gifts along with our talents and abilities, we should make ourselves available to serve in the church that God has placed us in.
There is something for everyone to do. Not everyone can be a pastor. Not everyone can be a deacon. But, there is something for everyone to do. No matter how old or young you are, if you are a child of God, there is something for you to do in the work of the local church. If you are not doing anything, then you are living in rebellion and disobedience. God did not call you to sit on a pew and do nothing. God has called you to involve yourself in the work in some way. He has given you gifts, talents, and abilities; and He expects that you use those for His glory. Even if you are not physically able to do certain things, there are areas in which God can use you. You can be an encouragement to others by making phone calls and writing letters. You can be a prayer warrior. The truth of the matter is, there is no excuse. You are to use what God has given you in the way in which He has prepared you and in the place in which He has placed you.
There is a lot of work that is yet to be done as we wait for the soon return of Christ. The world is in desperate need. The world needs a church that is alive and well, making a difference. As a believer, the church needs you. If you do not do your part then the church will never fulfill its purpose. I encourage you to consider what God has given to you and find just the right place for you to serve and get involved in the work.