There’s this concept in business and in project management that something can’t be fast, cheap, and good—you can only pick two of the three.
If you want something quickly and inexpensively, it will lack quality.
If you value quality and don’t mind waiting longer, it can be done on a budget.
If you’re wanting a good product in a hurry, you’re going to pay for it.
When it comes to designing something, picking a product, or planning a project, your value systems always come into play. And I think the same is true in our lives: our actions always reveal what we value.
As you read through this passage, take a moment to identify what you think the builders valued.
“When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work.
From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.
Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”” Nehemiah 4:15-20 (NIV)
What things stood out to you? What do you learn about Nehemiah’s value system?
Valuing the Voice and Mission of God
Though they were in a moment of potential peril, they continued to trust God. Their lives were in danger but they knew this was the Lord’s plan, so they continued to work. They weren’t willing to give up on what God had spoken just because they encountered difficulty.
This, of course, is something that’s much easier said than done. It’s easy to follow the voice of God to the letter when it doesn’t cost us anything. But what about when it’s difficult, could impact our reputation, or goes contrary to our desires?
If I had been in this group, I might not have wanted to persevere. I might have valued my own sense of self-preservation over being obedient. But I’m so grateful for Nehemiah and those who served with him because they provide an example of how we can persevere in a moment of intense pressure and opposition. They remind me that following God’s voice should be paramount and far above my own internal desires.
Valuing Human Beings
I think that we can all plot ourselves on the spectrum of people-people and task-people. Now, I know that we’re called to love others but, that doesn’t automatically make all of us “people-people”. In fact, sometimes the best way for me to love people is by working on the task or the process.
But I love the balance that Nehemiah and his team struck with their work: they had a job to do that they weren’t going to compromise on, but they also weren’t going to leave the people unprotected. They cared about the safety of each person because God loves them.
It’s easy for me to get wrapped up in valuing myself and others based on what we do instead of who we are, but that’s contrary to how God sees us. He loves and values us not because of what we give him, but simply because he loves us. Nehemiah’s actions remind me to take good care of myself and those around me, knowing that the work will also get done.
For many years, I didn’t want to work with a team and thought instead that I could do things better on my own. I hated admitting that I had weaknesses and wasn’t self-sufficient on my own. I wanted to be able to solve every problem with no assistance and, thus, take all the glory for the solution.
But as I’ve grown as a human being and grown in the Lord, I have come to realize there’s immense beauty in collaboration and teamwork. In fact, the Lord made us to function with one another—it’s not good for us to be alone—and that’s exactly what Nehemiah reminds us of.
Every person on this crew had a specific job to do and, without one of them, they would have been missing a major component. Though the jobs and skills were varied, none was less important than all the others. When each person embraced their unique gifts, submitted to the vision of God, and pitched in where they could, incredible things happened.
Our actions always reveal our value systems. I hope that all of us take the time to examine how what we do reveals what we believe about God, ourselves, and others. I pray that we each have the courage to give those beliefs that don’t line up with truth to God for some re-valuing. Even when we’re off, he graciously invites us back to himself so that we can become more like him.
What do your actions reveal about your value system?
Do your beliefs line up with God’s?
To go Deeper: Read Valuing the Wrapping More Than the Contents, Belief Determines Behavior