By Luke Holmes
Sometimes it’s easy to see how and where God is working and how you can be a part of it.
But sometimes we get so caught up in what we want God to do that we miss what God is doing right now.
In the Old Testament, Nehemiah felt the burden of God to go back to his homeland and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. The book is a master class in leadership.
Every move he makes seems to be carefully orchestrated and planned out to do what God has called him to do.
He cares about the people and the city and is moved to prayer over their plight. That prayer leads to action when he asks the King for permission and resources to rebuild Jerusalem.
He inspects the problems, formulates a plan, and involves people from all walks of life to help rebuild. There’s much to learn from Nehemiah as he lives with a singular focus to see Jerusalem restored to glory.
Pause to Praise
There does seem to be one time that he takes a break from this focus, though. At the beginning of chapter 3, the first gate is built, its doors hung, and the walls around it.
It’s only a beginning, but Nehemiah takes this moment to stop and thank God for what he has done.
It’s strange because, at first glance, not much has been accomplished. Only a portion of the wall and one gate has been rebuilt.
The city wasn’t safe yet, and there was still much work to be done. Still, Nehemiah stops to consecrate the first part of the wall and give thanks.
Don’t Forget to Give Thanks
No matter what type of ministry you are in, there’s a lot to be done. The work of ministry is always ongoing if you’re a church leader.
We’ve been commissioned to take the gospel to the nations, to every tribe and tongue. It can be easy to focus on what still needs to happen that we miss the work God has already done.
Don’t be so focused on what God might do through you that you miss what God is doing through you.
Every sincere Christian longs for God to do more work through them and among them. A healthy church and healthy leaders are always looking to see what’s coming next.
What’s needed for the next stage, how can we get over the next burden, how do we move forward to the next stage of ministry–church leaders are inundated with ideas about how to move past the next “attendance barrier.”
Plan for next, but appreciate the now
When we only focus on the possibility of what God could do through us, then we miss the work that God has done to bring us to the spot we are.
There’s always more to do. But there’s already so much that God has done.
Part of a leader’s particular burden is always having to look forward to seeing what needs to come next. But don’t miss the present or past because you are so focused on the future.
It’s easy to never be satisfied, always looking for the next obstacle, the next challenge, and the next part of the wall.
The task ahead almost always feels greater and bigger than the one behind us.
Celebrate every victory
Every victory is God’s victory, and there are no such things as small victories with God.
Even the things that we might consider mundane or miniscule, like half a wall being built, are the result of God working in and through his people.
We need to recognize and celebrate every work of God among us. Leaders don’t just cast vision for the future; they celebrate the many ways God has already worked through them.
Nehemiah didn’t lose focus on the task at hand, but when he led the people to stop and consecrate the first part of the work, he reminded them that they could only accomplish that task through God’s power.
When we celebrate these small victories, we’re teaching the church that God is moving among us now and will be the source of power as we continue to work towards the bigger goal.
These victories will look different in every church.
It might just be that you make through a meeting without anyone yelling. It might be as simple as the continued faithfulness of a ministry leader over decades of the church.
Stop and give thanks for now
As you plan for what comes next, don’t forget to see what God has done to bring you to you.
More than that, don’t forget to stop and consecrate the work God has already done in your midst.
No matter how big or small your ministry is, no matter how long or short you’ve been a Christian, I’m confident God is working in you.
Remember that He who began the good work in you will carry it to completion.
LUKE HOLMES (@lukeholmes) is husband to Sara, father to three young girls, and pastor at First Baptist Church Tishomingo, Oklahoma since 2011. He’s a graduate of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and can be found online at LukeAHolmes.com.