Some folks need to rediscover the fine art of discretion
So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode. I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass. Then I went up in the night by the valley and inspected the wall, and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work. (Nehemiah 2:11–16)
We live in a TMI culture—too much information. People process the deep dark things of life on social media for the entire world to read. Am I the only one who struggles with such blatant openness? I will just say it: Some folks need to rediscover the fine art of discretion. I know, I know—I am on a soapbox and sound preachy. Forgive me. No, I take that back. I believe there is some information you need to keep to yourself.
I admire Nehemiah’s discretion. He arrived in Jerusalem knowing the task to rebuild was not going to be easy. We find out right away that he encountered folks who were not happy about his presence and his purpose (Nehemiah 2:9–10). He did not overreact to the criticism, nor did he rush to pull together supporters to start an immediate building project. The journey had been long, and the task ahead would take energy, so he rested.
The journey had been long, and the task ahead would take energy, so he rested
After resting for three days, he still did not rally the people to action. Instead, he went out at night when no one else was around. He surveyed the ruins and quietly processed his thoughts. He made an honest assessment to create a practical plan. Too much was at stake to rush. He needed firsthand knowledge.1 Nehemiah knew he could not do the work of rebuilding alone, but he needed to spend time alone to understand his role.
When I feel needy or frustrated, my first tendency is to run to anyone who will listen. Social media adds a new dimension to “anyone.” When seeking help for your family in time of frustration or crisis, be intentional about the whom and where. Too much personal information on social media can become embarrassing, even harmful. There are good places to go for help. Go to specific, confidential people to process. Learn a lesson in wisdom from Nehemiah, and put some time and space between stimulus and response.
When you come into a new situation, like the one awaiting Nehemiah in Jerusalem, do you tend to:
a) Complain about the work ahead?
b) Run to anyone who will listen?
c) Go straight to work?
d) Assess the situation first?
What positive strategies can you follow when dealing with social media and personal issues?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, give me patience to listen and wait before I speak and act. Give me your wisdom to navigate life and relationships. Amen.
1 Leslie C. Allen and Timothy S. Laniak, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003), 99.