Post reshared with kind permission from Josh Reich.
One of the realities of leadership and relationships is that someone will always do more work than the other person. When you are the person who is taken advantage of it can be hurtful. When you are the person who is taking advantage, it doesn’t feel as bad.
For many, this can be devastating in a relationship or job. The closer a person is to us, the more hurtful it is.
Verse 5 says: The nobles, the leaders, would not lift a finger. One translation says they wouldn’t put their shoulders to the work, another says, they refused to do the work.
This verse is telling. Not everyone will do the work; some will flat out refuse it. And either stay and watch and cause problems or they’ll leave.
If you’re a pastor, you’ve had this happen as you’ve watched leaders and people come and go to your church.
They will leave for doctrinal reasons, theological disagreements. Some will go because you use too much bible or not enough. Your sermons aren’t helpful enough, or they are also useful and not deep enough. People will leave because you won’t do their ministry idea, you aren’t meeting their needs, and the list goes on and on.
We had an elder leave our church because he wanted a church that was more about him and his needs. When this happens, it is crushing because one of the jobs of an elder is to lay aside their needs and preferences to lead for the good of the body. He told me since “Revolution targets men in there 20’s and 30’s and I’m older than that, so it doesn’t make sense to stay.”
That’s refusing to do the work.
I’ve watched it happen among church planters as they go through an assessment. When they don’t pass right away or hit snags, they can choose to do the work that lays ahead or look for a shortcut.
When a leader burns out, they can choose to do the work to come back healthy and come back and lead, or they can say, “I won’t do the work.”
Why does this matter?
In the New Testament, obedience and sacrifice are linked.
We are more interested in glory.
But that doesn’t come first and might not even happen in this life.
As Andy Stanley said, A vision worth pursuing will demand sacrifice and risk. You will be called upon to give up the actual good for the potential best.
I love what Karen Burnett said: If you decide that what God is asking you to do with your life is just too much on you and is just a little too inconvenient, then you will never see the miracles he has for you.
I want the miracles of God, every day. But rarely do I want any inconvenience. I want the reward that comes from obedience to Jesus, but not the sacrifice that that obedience will require.
Here’s a hard reality of life, church, family, and work.
Some will refuse to do the work. Some will refuse to be a part of the vision. Some will refuse to sacrifice like you will.
You will give more than others.
You will give more than your spouse.
You will give more than your kids.
You will give more than your boss.
You will give more than your pastor.
You will give more than your board members.
If you have a vision, at some point, you will be called upon to sacrifice something for that vision. That sacrifice might be time, money, hard work, failure.
It’s okay to grieve and be upset about people who don’t do what they say they’ll do. But we don’t stay there; we have to heal and move forward.
Some will do more work than others and work harder than others.
We’re told multiple times in Nehemiah 3 that some people did their section and then another.
Did they complain? I don’t know, but they started to work on another section because they were finished with theirs.
They didn’t finish their section and said, well we’re done, let’s wait for them.
One of our values is seeing a problem or something that needs to be done here and jumping in.
Nehemiah wants us to know that not only do some people do more work, some work harder.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joshua Reich
I am married to an incredibly beautiful woman, Katie (follow her on twitter @KatieReich), and we have 5 kids, 4 boys and a girl, (thankfully our daughter looks more like her mom everyday).
I have a B.S. in Pastoral Leadership from Lancaster Bible College and an M.Div. in Organizational/Missional Leadership from Biblical Seminary. In addition to writing here, some of my writing also appears at The Blog of Manly and Church Leaders.
I am a passionate Steelers fan and I read like it is going out of style (secretly I always wish I would have bought stock in Amazon because I keep them in business). If you’d like to see what I’m reading now or just got done reading, go here.
I am a coffee nut (thanks to my wife), which means you can usually find me at a local coffee shop either reading or having a meeting. If you want to buy me a cup of coffee, make sure it is a good cup of black coffee (I know, plain and boring!)