About the Narrator

Tom Schmidt was raised in a family of nine on a dairy farm in Kansas. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, graduating in 1970 with a commission in the Infantry. He served for 25 years in command, staff, and instructor assignments, ranging from platoon to Department of the Army level. Tom and his wife, Jean, also served on OCF staff as Field Representative at Ft. Leavenworth and Director of Field Operations.

This episode narrated by LTC Tom Schmidt, USA (Ret.)

How do you respond to distractions and discouragement?

Today’s Scripture reading comes from Nehemiah 6:3, quoting from the NASB:

“So I sent messengers to them, saying, ‘I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?’”

Nehemiah was obviously a man of focus and commitment. It is tough enough working through the routine distractions of a day, not to mention distractions intended to intimidate. Nehemiah, an unknown newcomer, repeatedly responded with clear resolve not to be drawn or distracted from what he came to town to do, which was to rebuild Jerusalem’s wall.

Distractions confront us all. Some distractions are a result of task saturation, simply piling more on our plates than we can reasonably handle. Yet other distractions have influence through other means, such as an unshared vision or fear and intimidation as in the case of Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem. Nehemiah models for us how to respond to distractions and intimidation. Five times Nehemiah refused to turn from what he was called to do. His focus was to complete the great work and not to delay its completion.

Most people (especially those in the military) can appreciate being the new kid on the block, but note how Nehemiah channels any fear, worry, and anxiety. He cried out and asked God to strengthen him. He took courage and resisted every ploy of his adversaries. It is naive to think that the work we do in the Lord’s name will be received with enthusiasm from everyone. How does one keep focus when distractions and discouragement come? Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Keep focus on the big picture and ask His help. Remind yourself that what you do is for His glory.

Points to Ponder

Over the next week, here are 3 points to ponder during your personal time of reflection or with a small group or mentor.

  1. First, lack of appreciation by others can lead to untruths about your real effort and motive. It is designed to halt a great work.
  2. Second, pray about task saturation that can lead to fixation on the surroundings to the exclusion of the goal.
  3. Third, fear and intimidation are a formidable duo. Rely on the sufficiency of God to equip you for the task.

Nehemiah and his team completed the wall in 52 days! Fear came upon those who attempted to produce fear in him. Distractions are designed to prevent the great work of God from being completed. Persevere. Have a mind to work. Stay on the wall.