I doubt you’ve heard of Charles H. Duell, but if you look him up, he is known for one thing. He was Commissioner of the US Patent Office in 1899. This office legally protects the rights of new inventions. At the turn of the century, Charles H. Duell said about the future, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
He was so wrong.
Think of all the inventions that have been developed! The automobile, television, rocketry into space, cell phones – Charles wasn’t thinking about the possibilities of what the future holds.
That’s what happens when a person doesn’t have vision.
We have looked at the leadership lessons of Nehemiah. He had a vision that was birthed in his heart – to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem, the beloved city of his people. (Birthing). Nehemiah visited the city and carried his vision discreetly before the Lord and not to anyone else (Discretion). He knew it was necessary to analyze the situation firsthand and wait on God’s timing before the vision could be shared. Otherwise, his enemies could prevent Nehemiah from bringing the vision to life (Assess The Situation).
What happens next is crucial in understanding what to do with the vision that God has given you!
Nehemiah realizes that the timing is now and shares his vision with the inhabitants of Jerusalem:
“Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.” – Nehemiah 2:17-18
While God gives the vision to one person or even a few, you cannot carry out a vision in isolation; a vision requires community and proper communication.
Look at how Nehemiah framed his short but powerful message:
- He identified himself with the need. It didn’t matter that Nehemiah didn’t live in Jerusalem; he took on the responsibility and bore the burden of those living for years in a city of broken walls. Their constant fear of enemy invasion without walls as a defense is his concern as well.
- He used language that identified this as a vision that incorporates their participation. Look at the uses of ‘us’ and ‘we’ – Nehemiah invites the people to rebuild the walls as a part of his vision.
- He did not appeal to extrinsic motivation. Imagine Nemehiah saying to the people: “Whoever helps me is put into a raffle for 2 free tickets to see the Hanging Gardens of Babylon!” Instead, he appealed to intrinsic motivation, to the deeper parts of their soul. They do not want to live in disgrace anymore. To be the laughingstock of neighboring nations. To be vulnerable and defenseless when their enemies rise against them.
Proverbs 28:18 says, “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.” The ESV says, “Where there is no prophetic vision, the people cast off restraint.” The people in Jerusalem had been used to their impoverished and insecure position. Since there was no vision, they got used to subpar conditions and considered it ‘normal.’ Then Nehemiah enters the scene with an idea that has the opportunity to change their lives. A vision is always bigger than oneself; Nehemiah cannot complete this task alone. It takes a community to make a vision a reality.
Think about the vision that God has given you. Hopefully, the vision has been percolating for some time, and you can share it with those you trust.
- You can share with your wife the godly vision for your marriage. It doesn’t matter if you’re not there yet, but are you both taking steps to get there?
- Confide in a select few of your next ministry opportunity, business venture, or passion project. Those people may be the ones to join you, even in unexpected ways!
- Look at your creative side. Music, poetry, art, etc. How can others take part in what you love?
- Even as a church, we are part of something bigger than ourselves, are we not? That’s the family of God. It is the Kingdom of God. How are you involved in your local church?
Back to Nehemiah. What do the citizens of Jerusalem say?
“They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.” – Nehemiah 2:18
That is the best response a leader would ever want to hear! No opposition, no complaints, only a can-do attitude to get the job done! While having everyone onboard is an ideal response, they might have experienced comments such as…
- “We’ve tried that before, and it didn’t work. The opposition was too strong.” (Take a look at Ezra 4)
- “We’ve gotten along fine without the walls for 100 years just fine! There’s no need to change; let’s keep it the same.”
- “That job is way too much work, and we’re busy – we don’t have time!”
You might be thinking through similar objections when moving forward with your vision. These potential roadblocks reveal why it is crucial to communicate what God has put on your heart in a participatory manner. It’s not that you need them to join your vision, but think of it this way – They need the God-given vision you have to accomplish His Kingdom’s purposes. It’s a two-way street – we need each other!
I cannot help but think of The Walt Disney Company. They own film franchises and networks such as Marvel, Lucas Films, and 20th Century Studios. Disney has 12 theme parks in 6 resorts that people from around the world visit daily. In addition, they have their streaming service, Disney Plus, and they are the top licenser of merchandise in the world. The Walt Disney Company made a whopping 82.72 billion dollars. That’s 82.72 BILLION DOLLARS.1
The man who started it all, Walt, didn’t create his company with billions but rather with a compelling vision. He envisioned a magical environment where the power of storytelling could come to life, a place where parents and children can have fun together. Walt’s vision inspired the beloved Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, in 1955.
Walt also had a vision for Disneyworld, but sadly, he passed away before it became a reality. At the grand opening, his surviving wife was an honored guest on the platform. The emcee said to her, “I just wish Walt could have seen this.” She replied with two words: “He did.“
Walt Disney was the first man to see Disney World before anyone lifted a finger. And the results now? Disney has 223,000 employees – all because of Walt’s vision. Walt needed others to see his vision become a reality. And others needed Walt’s vision to become their reality.
Now I bring this back to you – what is God’s vision on your heart? There’s a group of people who need your vision. Who are you going to share it with? By looking back at Nehemiah’s leadership lessons, I pray you can take a step of faith and see your vision come to fruition.
Blessings in Jesus’ Name,