1. How did you go about choosing a career?
2. What steps did you need to take as you prepared for your first job?
3. Have you had to change jobs? What one word would you use to describe that process?
Read Nehemiah 1:1-4
1. How did Nehemiah find out about the condition of the city?
2. In this passage we see the words "trouble, shame, broken down, destroyed." What do you think life was like for the exiles who had returned to live in Jerusalem? Would you want to live there?
3. Could you blame Nehemiah for choosing to stay where he was? What motivation would Nehemiah have to return to Jerusalem?
4.. Read Nehemiah 1:4. How did Nehemiah react to the news?
1. What is the difference between a career and a calling?
2. How did Nehemiah's passion for God's people impact his career choice?
3. Can a person have both a career and a calling?
3. What can you do to make your career more of a calling?
Nehemiah changed when he heard of the suffering and disgrace of his people. His priorities changed. His payer life changed. And, his plans changed.
If you want to find a meaningful career, look at the world through God's eyes. What is important to God should be important to you.
Through prayerful obedience to God, you can either find a meaningful career or find meaning in the career you already have.
There are many reasons one might consider changing careers--moving, getting laid off, finding a new interest, or changing life circumstances. Adjusting to a new career can be one of the biggest adventures, or one of the greatest stresses of a lifetime.
I remember trying to help a friend of mine prepare his resume. Before we could begin the process I needed to know what kind of job he wanted, so I asked him to describe his ideal job. "I want to make a lot of money. I want to work as few hours as possible. And, I want to be free of stress." Who wouldn't want a job like that? Thirteen years later this person is still unemployed. Who would have guessed?
In this lesson we will discover how Nehemiah's life was changed when he realized the difference between a career and a calling.
Nehemiah had a great job
It would seem that Nehemiah had the most ideal job of his day. (Nehemiah 1:11 "Now I was cupbearer to the king.") He was living a life of luxury and prestige in the palace of the king. A cupbearer was much more than our modern "butler" (see Genesis 40). It was a position of great responsibility and privilege. At each meal, he tested the king's wine to make sure it wasn't poisoned. A man who stood that close to the king in public had to be handsome, cultured, knowledgeable in court procedures, and able to converse with the king and advise him, if asked (see Genesis 41:1-13). Because he had access to the king, the cupbearer was a man of great influence, which he could use for good or for evil. The fact that Nehemiah, a Jew, held such an important position in the palace speaks well of his character and ability (Daniel 1:1-4).
For nearly a century, the people from the Jewish remnant had been back in their own land. Nehemiah could have joined them, but instead he chose to live nearly 700 miles away from the location of his ancestry. Of course, Nehemiah had known all his life that the city of his fathers was in ruins. But he had no idea how bad things were.
Wiersbe, Warren W.: Be Determined. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1992, S. Ne 1:1
Nehemiah's reaction to the bad news
Nehemiah would not be in the king's court for much longer. His response to hearing the bad news is indicative of his awareness that God was calling him to a completely new sphere of service. Soon he would become a great leader for his own people. Nehemiah was about to become a manager, construction engineer, warrior, pastor, and even a governor. Being a cup bearer was his career, but leading God's people was a calling. His life was about to take a radical redirection.
In this story we learn much about Nehemiah's commitment to prayer. It was through prayer that Nehemiah's passion for his own people led him down a new career path.
Finally, Nehemiah made a plan. Too often, we plan our projects and then ask God to bless them. Nehemiah didn't make that mistake: First he prayed, then he planned.