Light a Fire

In Sermon Ideas by Rachel Schultz

Light a Fire


Key Passage: Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer live in disgrace.  Nehemiah 2:17Key Thought: Effective spiritual leaders know how to motivate and mobilize the hearts and hands of those they influence.

Scripture: Nehemiah 2:11-20

Idea: Effective spiritual leaders are able to motivate others because they light their own fire in the quiet places with God, do their homework, know how to fire people up with carefully chosen words, lead with the heart, identify with their people, skillfully move both the hand and heart, and equip their people to keep going in the face of opposition.

Story:  Nehemiah’s rebuilding project in Jerusalem began on a quiet note as he spent three days resting, setting up housekeeping, planning, and praying. His passion was lit in the quiet places with God. (verse 11)

In the deep of the third night Nehemiah quietly slipped out of bed and with a few trusted friends went out to check out the city. He wanted to know what was out there. How the place was put together. The strengths and weaknesses of the city. What it would take to put this town back in business. Before meeting with the people, Nehemiah did his homework. (verses 12-16)

The next morning Nehemiah called a town hall meeting where he laid it all out. Drawing on his secret tour of the city, he amazed his audience with detailed descriptions of the wreckage. He reminded them of the lack of respect their neighbors held for them and their God. He cast a vision for the future by telling them of God’s provision. When Nehemiah made the appeal, they people jumped to their feet and shouted, “Let us rebuild the city.” They were motivated by Nehemiah’s carefully chosen words. (verses 17, 18)

Even though Nehemiah had a court order in his hip pocket to clean up the place and get the city in shape, he knew that rigid, up-tight, do-it-because-I-said-so dogma squelches morale and motivation. Twisting arms and guilt tripping does not motivate people.  Motivated people are moved by leaders with heart, those who inspire them with vision.

Nehemiah truly identified with his people. He encouraged them. He said “Can you see the mess we are in? Come on, let’s rebuild the wall so that we will no longer be a disgrace.” Effective motivators personally touch the hearts and lives of others.

Nehemiah recognized the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. He did not offer trinkets and prizes to the crew that was first to finish their portion of the wall, or Mediterranean cruises to those turning out the most attractive work. He stirred their heartfelt passions. He intrinsically motivated them.

As soon as the people rolled up their sleeves and went to work, they were once again hit by the insults of Sanballat, Tobiah, and Gesham. Normally such salvos laid the people in the dust, but not this time, because God’s man equipped them to keep going no matter what. (verses 19, 20)

Submitted by Dan Martella. Better Sermons © 2005-2007. Click here for usage guidelines.