Summary: Words are cheap, but the proof is in the doing. So they said, "It is not enough to sign our name & to sign it publicly. We will do more than that. We will put these 4 items as our top priority." (Powerpoints available - #323)

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(This is the ninth of a Leadership series featuring Nehemiah. Some ideas & illustrations in these messages were based on or benefited greatly from, to varying extents, the book “Hand Me Another Brick” by Charles Swindoll.)

(The Powerpoints used with this sermon are available free. Just email me at and request PP #323.)

Whether you’re a senior in high school or a senior in college graduation day is special because it marks the closing of a major period in your life & the beginning of another. And in recognition of this new beginning the ceremony which marks your graduation is traditionally called a “Commencement” service. So in a few months, in thousands of auditoriums, seniors will attend Commencement services, listening to a great variety of speakers.

In all likelihood, most of the speakers will challenge them to make a success of their lives, to take an active part in seeking to make this world a better place in which to live.

ILL. Some speaker will undoubtedly relate that a great mathematician once said, “If I only had 3 minutes in which to work a problem, I would spend 2 minutes reading the problem & deciding how to work it.”

Another speaker may tell about the expert lumberjack who said, "If I only had 5 minutes in which to chop down a tree, I would spend 3 minutes sharpening my axe."

These seniors will be told that Commencement is not the end, but just the beginning, & they will have to think clearly & plan carefully as they prepare for whatever path they choose to follow. These speakers will almost certainly emphasize the great importance of proper preparation if they are ever going to achieve their hopes & dreams in life.

A. But may I remind you, thinking clearly & planning carefully is hard work!

ILL. Henry Ford once said, "Thinking is the hardest work there is - which is probably the reason why so few engage in it."

It is said that many of our modern conveniences came about because of our laziness. We don't like to dig ditches – so someone invented a backhoe. We no longer have the time or inclination to spend long hours toiling over a hot stove, so TV dinners & microwave ovens were developed.

Some of us would even have a hard time balancing our checkbooks if we didn't have help. We used to be able to add & subtract & divide & multiply. But we don't have to do that any more because we’re living in an electronic age with computers & calculators to do much of our thinking for us. You see, thinking is hard work.

B. And thinking things through - standing back & getting the total picture, looking into the future, determining priorities & then planning accordingly - is also hard work. It wasn't easy in old Jerusalem, & it isn't easy now.

Think what we have learned so far about Nehemiah. When he came to Jerusalem the city was in ruins & he had a wall to rebuild. As I’ve mentioned before, if I had been in his place, I would have rolled up my sleeves & started getting ready to lay bricks almost immediately.

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