The Psalmist noted that “it’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone.” Does that sound like someone you know? I remember a time when I was that person. I was all work work work. What happens then? You don’t enjoy life. You don’t have time to get done what God truly wants you to do in life. You busy yourself up so much with useless work. You end up not giving each area of your life the attention it requires because you keep piling on the work.
Even if what you do is important, it can be a problem if you are working your fingers to the bone. I was working in nursing. I was taking care of people. Hard work is important. Hard workers should be something we all strive to be; however, there is a difference between hard workers and over-workers. There is a difference between giving everything a hundred percent and shortchanging some areas of your life because you are pushing yourself too hard in another area.
God enjoys giving us rest. He loves us. He does not want us to be burdened to the bone. If you are in ministry and you are working too much, you are pushing too hard in an area where the Holy Spirit does the greatest work. At your job if you are overburdened, you need to consider where the problem lies. Are you not delegating tasks? Are you taking on too much? Do you understand your job requirements? Are you working too much for the overtime pay? Remember, whatever it may be, God wants you to work hard at everything you do, but He always wants you to rest.
“If God doesn’t build the house,
the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city,
the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
giving rest to those he loves?”
-Psalm 127:1-2 [MSG]
Organization is often a problem in life—or should I say disorganization is the problem? For a family to function, for a workplace to function, for a ministry or church to function, organization is very important. Along with this is communication. If you look at struggling relationships, struggling marriages and struggling churches, many times one of the top problems is a lack of communication or a problem with disorganization.
When Nehemiah was leading the people back to godly living, he got everything organized. From the very beginning, he walked around and made notes. I think his organization is one reason I’ve always been drawn to him for I am a bit OCD at times. One of the items he organized included the list for the priests and Levites. He wanted to be sure everyone knew what their job was so they could be focused and get the job done.
In your home, does everyone know their responsibilities and stick to them or is one person carrying the ship? At your work, does everyone understand their job description and requirements or are people micromanaging or slacking off? At church, do you know what area to serve or are you spread out thin like scraping the last out of the butter tub? Nehemiah made sure each man knew his job. Today, write down your job for work, home, church, etc. Make a list and if unsure, ask questions. When you do this, you can find out if you are doing too much, if you are spread thin, and what areas you could put forth more effort. You can do this!
“All in all I cleansed them from everything foreign. I organized the orders of service for the priests and Levites so that each man knew his job. I arranged for a regular supply of altar wood at the appointed times and for the firstfruits.
Remember me, O my God, for good.”
-Nehemiah 13:30-31 [MSG]
We cannot do everything but too often we try to do everything anyway. We find ourselves helping out others and before we know it, we have a filled plate. We volunteer for the PTO, start coaching soccer, sign up for the church bake sale, teach Sunday School, and take on a second job. We sign up for overtime at work, agree to organize the family picnic, mow the neighbor’s lawn, and handle most of the chores in the house. We find ourselves swamped with stuff to do and our shoulders are not able to support everything. If there is too much – if the load is far too heavy—something will break.
In today’s passage, Moses was faced with the complaints of the people among other things. He was getting overwhelmed. He admitted to God that he couldn’t do it alone. That is one of the first things we each must do—admit that we cannot do everything alone. Then God shared with Moses His plan to assist so Moses would not have to carry the load alone. God was going to give the Spirit to a group of people to help Moses. All Moses did was tell God His problem—his need – and the need was met.
Moses was in a leadership position and we likewise have leadership positions, whether we are parents, teachers, bosses, or simply a person trying to do it all. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed because the load is far too heavy, simply take it to God and watch as He helps you carry the load. As well, do not try to take on too many things. When the Spirit of God was given to this group of men, there was delegation. You were not meant to do it all.
“I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! … I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone.” Numbers 11:14, 17 [NLT]
“After thinking it over, I spoke out against these nobles and officials. I told them, ‘You are hurting your own relatives by charging interest when they borrow money!’ Then I called a public meeting to deal with the problem.” – Nehemiah 5:7 [NLT]
I love the beginning of this verse. “After thinking it over, I spoke” is what Nehemiah says. It doesn’t say, “When I found out, I became frustrated and immediately took action.” Nehemiah thought about it, pondered, took counsel, consulted with himself… the HCSB says, “After seriously considering.”
Now Nehemiah had set to rebuild the wall. He waited three days before he even spoke up about what he wanted to do because he wanted to see for himself. He examined the area. He then delegated the workload so no one was burdened. It then comes to his attention that there are people who are very poor because of injustice. Nehemiah did not rush in to verbally attack those who were guilty. Instead, he thought about it. He took the time consider everything before he went forward to make accusations. In doing so, he calmly proclaimed the problems and there was then justice for these poor people.
Today consider your words and your emotions. We are to be slow to speak and we are to watch our anger (James 1:19-20). Again and again we are reminded. It’s hard to keep our mouths in check at times, but once something is said, it cannot be taken back.