A couple months ago, I reposted a Nehemiah story, about his great work. He was rebuilding the walls of the city of God. He called it “a great work.” Because it was a great work, he told his distractors, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.”
I cannot come down.
Nehemiah knew better than many of us, that sticking to the work means not engaging in distractions. It means responding to critics by reminding them of the significance of the work we are doing and then going back to that work. It means using this same response over and over and over. (Four times for Nehemiah in this story).
If we understand that the work we are doing is great, then we are less likely to be involved in merely good things. Even if those good things aren’t traps like the distractions Nehemiah was facing.
Except the things around may be traps.
I wonder if you are like me. We have a great work we want to be doing. Before we start we check to see what’s happening in the world. We look at the clock and discover that five or fifteen or fifty minutes have gone by. We have read interesting things. We have learned much, perhaps. But we have made no progress on our “great work.”. So we start again. When we come to a hard part, while we are thinking, we check to see what’s happening.
You know what I mean?
Listen. Everyone that was working with Nehemiah, every person hauling bricks, every person standing guard, every person involved was part of this “great work.” Raising kids, doing your job well, rebuilding relationships or communities can all be “great works.”
When you believe the work you are called to is great, it’s easier to say “I can’t come down.”
The other day, I got to the end of Undistracted, by Bob Goff. He points to this very story from Nehemiah. A decade after I wrote this post, it seems helpful to me to be reminded that it easy to be distracted, and it’s possible to learn to not come down.