The proposed book takes the reader through the ancient book of Nehemiah and applies lessons from Nehemiah to contemporary life. It explains exactly what Nehemiah did that led to his success. As I wrote in the Epilogue, “In this book, I have attempted to provide contemporary application of an ancient writing. I believe the lessons Nehemiah provides are invaluable for people of the 21st century who are tempted to live their lives without intentional planning or thought of the future.”
This book was intended to be a bridge between the Christian Church and those outside its walls. My intended reader is a pre-Christian – the person that is looking for the relevance of Christianity for his/her life and is asking sincere questions about the Christian faith. New Christians would also benefit from this book, as would anyone who had little or no knowledge about the contents of the book of Nehemiah. My hope is that Christians would purchase this book to use as a tool for witnessing to their unsaved friends and family members. I also included questions for reflection or discussion at the end of each chapter so that small groups could go through the book and discuss it together.
This book was written in such a way that all thoughtful individuals might be interested in it. I avoided writing a research paper or a theological treatise. I explained unfamiliar terms and concepts. I used personal anecdotes and humor to make the reading more enjoyable. I referenced a wide range of sources: from Sports Illustrated to Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life; from Dr. James Dobson to a story about Billy Graham. In addition, When Building a Life is not an intimidating book – only 19,000 words in length – which is one of its greatest strengths. This makes it more likely to be read by people who do not usually have time or patience to read religious books.
The nine phases of building a life that are covered in the book are (1) Don’t Do It Alone: This chapter explains that when undergoing such a task as building a purposeful, joyful life, we all could use help. Nehemiah set an example by seeking God’s help through prayer when he began his mission (of rebuilding the walls surrounding Jerusalem). (2) Pray, Plan and Persevere: Nehemiah faced numerous challenges while fulfilling his calling. However, he also demonstrated that with prayer, careful planning and perseverance, those obstacles might be overcome. (3) Do Not Conform: Nehemiah did not follow in the footsteps of other Jewish leaders. Rather than conforming, he courageously took a stand for his beliefs and did what he knew was right. (4) Do Not Go To Ono: Ono was the place where Nehemiah’s adversaries wished to meet with him. Nehemiah turned down their invitation to meet on the plains of Ono because he was focused on fulfilling his mission. (5) Experience the Joy You Desire: Everyone is looking for joy in his or her life. Nehemiah revealed that lasting joy comes from following the will of God. (6) Evaluate and Respond: When the teaching of God was read to the assembly in Jerusalem, it was discovered that there was a gap between God’s expectations and what the people were actually doing. They evaluated how they were doing things and responded by making necessary changes. (7) Celebrate Your Progress: After the wall surrounding Jerusalem was completed and Nehemiah began rebuilding the structure of the community, they had a celebration. (8) Monitor the Storeroom: Nehemiah cleared out a storeroom that was being used inappropriately. We also should consider what lies hidden in the unseen storerooms of our lives and clean them up when necessary. (9) Take Your Task Seriously: Building your life is a serious business. Nehemiah took his role as a leader very seriously and did not tolerate any inappropriate behavior among his people.