Nehemiah 2:7 Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah;
Okay I have a confession to make…
I hate to ask people for help
It’s easy to explain that as humility, and being unwilling to burden others with my needs. But the truth is it’s arrogance pure and simple. There’s part of me that would rather suffer than admit I’d need help with something.
I’m incredibly thankful that God has helped me overcome this selfish pride, because the truth is, you cannot complete the work of God alone.
Nehemiah had patiently waited for exactly the right moment to follow up God’s calling with action. But when that moment came he not only had a detailed plan, but an extensive list of needs.
As soon as Artaxerxes agreed, Nehemiah asked for
- A letter from the king protecting him during his journey
- An official letter allowing him to use letters from the kings own forest for building in Jerusalem (2:8)
- And soldiers along with horses for protection (2:9)
He was not being selfish or greedy when asking for these things. Instead through his planning phase, Nehemiah saw problems that would soon arise like men attacking the work (2:10). These items (the letter in particular) were absolutely necessary when facing those issues.
The principle here is Nehemiah asked for help with a few strategic things.
Any work of God will have a VERY LONG to-do list, along with an EVEN LONGER wish list. Our response should not be to arrogantly act as if not help is needed when it obviously is, but it also shouldn’t ask for help with everything on our list.
Instead God would call us like Nehemiah to care for most things on our own (showing a work-ethic and ownership) and then ask for a few very important things. For Nehemiah that came down to two things.
Permission to build
And material to begin building
Dig a bit deeper and we recognize some other reasons why these were the strategic needs of Nehemiah
- He needed permission from the King to begin building the wall
- And he needed high quality building material as the wall was being built
Both of these were things he COULDN’T provide on his own
The application for myself (and the rest of us) is asking for help isn’t a sinful or selfish thing. But we must do the hard work of identifying our greatest needs through planning, and meeting our secondary needs.