August 18, 2011
From “Now What? Seven Differences between Truth and Error”
Chapter 3 The truth about one’s work: the difference between demands and distinction.
I gave myself to the work on this wall, without even purchasing a field. All my associates were gathered there for the work.
Nehemiah 5:16 NET
Our work often challenges our priorities. We want to make great choices regarding our priorities in life. But we find ourselves drained from our work, day in and day out. We want to look for work that truly satisfies our souls. Our search is futile because we become engrossed with the demands of our work. Our work also gives us a sense of distinction when we are successful and this can be deceptive at times. We listen to what our boss have to say regarding our performance at work. If it pleases the boss then we are ok, and if not, our hearts become confuse and we become very emotional and guilty of what we have done. So the tendency of employees to please the boss rings true in a lot of circles of society and organizations. We want to please people even when work can be very demanding and least distinction is given to us.
The verse above (Nehemiah 5:16) shows the commitment of Nehemiah and his associates to rebuild the walls of his home capital Jerusalem during their post-exilic journey back to their homeland after their captivity in Persia. The King of Persia at that time granted his request to rebuild the walls, but in the process of rebuilding the walls, they were faced with some opposition and some internal conflicts within the Jewish remnant community during that time. The time was 444 BC.
The context of the verse shows us that Nehemiah and his associates acted justly towards the poor in their land and reminded the oppressive rich people among them to give back the properties and houses to their poor counterparts. Nehemiah showed justice and mercy at the same time during his administration and rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.
The verse showed the distinction of Nehemiah and his associates among the Jewish community at that time as they shared with each other the joy of working together for a common goal and for the dignity of their nation. It was a wonderful experience for them as the remnant of believers who came back to their homeland. Although they were faced with opposition and issues within their ranks, they realized both the demands and distinction their work has for them. It was a fulfilling event in their lives as they seek to obey the LORD God in everything.
John C. Maxwell mentioned the energy and core values a team brings to accomplish a certain project at hand. He writes,
We’ve all seen teams that have a common goal yet lack common values. Everyone on the team has different ideas about what’s important. The result is chaos. Eventually the team breaks down if everyone tries to do things his own way. That’s why team members need to be on the same page. Just as personal values influence and guide an individual’s behaviour, organizational values influence and guide the team’s behaviour.
 Eugene H. Merrill, “A Theology of Ezra-Nehemiah and Esther” A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament, ed. Roy B. Zuck (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1991), 190 explains the historical, literary and theological background of Ezra-Nehemiah and Esther, in which the exiled Jews returned to their homeland to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem in order to protect their city from enemies. This was a time of the rebuilding of their nation after being conquered by foreign powers.
 John C. Maxwell, The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: Embrace Them and Empower Your Team (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2001), 179.