Do you want to make a difference in the world — or at least in your world? Do you want to leave a positive mark? Nehemiah made a difference that changed history — at least a little. And his life shows how you can make a difference, too.

The story starts like this:

Nehemiah heard a devastating report that his hometown of Jerusalem had been destroyed and its citizens completely demoralized. He responded in prayers of confession and intercession seeking God’s direction for what he should do about it.

We pick up the story in Nehemiah 2:1–6 (ESV)

In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time.

This very brief account gives us insight into some important aspects of making a difference.

There was danger involved. Nehemiah was sad in the presence of the king. It was very dangerous to show this kind of emotion — or any sign of trouble in the king’s presence when you were the cupbearer. The king could easily have determined that Nehemiah was worried about an assassination attempt by way of poison in the wine! Cupbearers had to be trustworthy and have a pleasant and confident demeanor.

Nehemiah was surely trustworthy but his demeanor betrayed the reality that something was terribly wrong in his world.

Nehemiah gave an honest answer. He expressed his fear but assured the king of his loyalty before he told him exactly why he was so troubled.

The king then asked a very opportune question. His question was an open door for Nehemiah to make a grand proposal.

Nehemiah gave a perfect response. After he sent a quick prayer up to heaven, he answered the king with his proposal. He had already prayed extensively about this over a period of many days — add one more quick prayer. He gave the king clear timetable so an informed decision could be made.

Then, God answered his prayer. The king granted Nehemiah’s request.

Nehemiah’s life gives us an illustration and example of how we can make a difference in our world. There are four things Nehemiah modeled that you must do to make a difference.

Here Are Those 4 Things You Must Do

1. Realize that God gives us all something to do. Nehemiah was cupbearer to the king but that is not the task God gave him. That is the place God put him so he could do what he was to do. You need to be where God wants you so you can do what God wants you to do. Begin to look for God’s direction for you and the work he has for you. Remain sensitive in your prayer and Bible reading time to discern what God may be saying to you.

2. Faith requires risk. Nehemiah literally risked his life as he responded to the crisis in Jerusalem. As you read the book of Nehemiah you will realize that he was continually risking his life as he completed the task before him. When you respond to God’s leadership, it is a risky venture. Don’t be discouraged.

3. When we move ahead in faith, we see God work. Had Nehemiah said nothing, that’s what would have happened — nothing! Instead, he expressed his faith by first opening his mouth and expressing the desire God placed on his heart. Over the next few months, he followed through, always moving head in faith and saw the walls rebuilt in a miraculous way!

4. It all starts with prayer. When he got the bad news about Jerusalem, he prayed. Before he answered the king, he prayed. As he was building the wall, he prayed. When he faced opposition, he prayed. He found direction, encouragement, courage and strength in prayer. It worked for him, it will work for you!

Are you ready to go?

Are you ready to make a difference?

Yes you are!!

Now is the time to start asking the question: what’s next? That is the very question God may be ready to answer at this instant. In some cases, it may take longer. I would love to hear how this works for you so let me know in the comments