Who Are They?
March 7, 2010
I want to teach you a cheer. It’d kind of dreary outside, you know, a little bit rainy. Thank you so much for being here. But I want to teach you a cheer, right here. You repeat the letters when I say the letter, so, I say a letter, you repeat it, you got it? Here’s the cheer, ok?
Give me a T, Give me an H, Give me an E, Give me a Y, what’s that spell? What’s that spell? Give yourselves a round of applause, that was phenomenal. Please be seated.
That’s what we’re going to talk about today. We’re going to talk about They. They. They have some serious sway. Have you ever noticed that? They. People say, “They have been coming to me. They feel, they say…”
I tell you a question that’ll mess somebody up, when they start going down the they-train, just say, “Stop. Who are they?” Who are they?
One day someone asked me that question, I was talking about they – they said, they feel. And someone said, “Ed, who are they?”
I said, “They? Them.”
They were like, “Them?”
I go, “yeah, uh, I think those.”
And then I discovered those were just a few.
The sway of they. Who are the they in your life? Because I believe that we can hang out with the wrong they. I also believe we can hang out with the right they. We’ve got to be very intentional about hanging out with the right they. This is something that stays in play our entire lives. Whether you’re 12, 32, 52 or 72, we’re constantly going through the right they, the wrong they. The wrong they, the right they.
Whenever I think about that 4 letter word, T.H.E.Y., they, I think about Nehemiah. You might be going, “Well who in the world is Nehemiah?”
Nehemiah is an Old Testament figure who understood the sway of they. And one of the awesome things about the Bible is, the Bible keeps it real. Do that with me. The Bible keeps it real. And not only does it show the strengths of its characters, it also shows the weaknesses. Not only does it show when characters hang out with the right they and the results of that, it also shows when characters hang out with the wrong they and what happens to their lives.
I think about Samson for example. Samson, the biblical body-builder. The strongest man who ever walked on planet earth. The he-man with the she-weakness. He had it going on. He was a leader, a charismatic figure. Handsome. The Bible says, though, Samson hung out with the wrong they. They have some serious sway. And they took him to the wrong places and he ended up breaking God’s purpose and God’s principles for his life. And his life ended up as a tragedy of what might have been. You look at Samson and go, “would of, could of, should of – could of, should of, would of.” Samson.
Nehemiah on the other hand, Nehemiah had the ability to discern the right they amongst the right they. Nehemiah, an Old Testament figure. Nehemiah, thousands of years ago. Nehemiah had a cush job. He was the wine-taster of the king of Persia, which is today modern day Iraq. We hear a lot about Iraq these days. Nehemiah lived in this town called Susa. Nehemiah felt led by God to do something that people said couldn’t be done. He went back to Jerusalem, because pretty much, the city was in shambles. He rebuilt the city walls.
Now, in today’s cultures, city walls are kind of unique, they’re kind of out of date, but back in the biblical times, city walls represented protection, they represented community, and in this context, the Jews, they represented freedom to worship God. The temple had been build. Nehemiah went to Jerusalem, rebuilt this structure that protected the temple. He did so because he chose the right they.
Give me a T. Give me an H. Give me an E. Give me a Y. What’s that spell? Question. Sounds like Dwight Schrute. Question. What did they influence you to do that you would not have done if they hadn’t been around? I’ll say it again. What did they influence you to do that you would not have done if they hadn’t been around? For the good, the bad and the ugly. The sway of they.
Now, in Nehemiah chapter 2, you read about the good they and the bad they. The wrong they and the right they. Let’s check them out, Nehemiah 2:19-20. Because again, they is a powerful pronoun, isn’t it. Verse 19, here’s the wrong they. “But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard it, they mocked us and despised us and said, “What is this thing you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” The wrong they.
And here’s what’s so freaky about the wrong they. The enemy has the ability to make the wrong they seem like everybody in our minds. It’s like, “Well, everybody feels that way! Everybody is saying it. Everybody is doing it.” Ooh. You’re just listening to the wrong they. Sanballat, Geshem, Tobiah, the wrong they. We can all replace those hard to pronounce name with names of people in our lives. Maybe now, maybe in the past.
God has a great opportunity for every single person here. The opportunity is mind boggling if we can see what’s in the cards for you and me. Opportunity after opportunity after opportunity. There’s no opportunity though without opposition. We’re going to face opposition. You don’t build something without a battle. Nehemiah was building something. He was building a wall. We’re all building something. We’re building a wall. A wall of worship. Because everything we do, the Bible says, should be an act of worship. Worship is not something we do just in a 65-minute time frame here on Sunday. Worship should be everything, the way you relate to people, the way you work, the way you treat your spouse, the way kids, you treat your parents. The way you handle your finances, everything should be an act of worship. So we’re all building the wall. So if we’re going to build the wall the way God wants us to do it, then we’ve got to surround ourselves with the right they.
But the wrong they, they got some serious sway. But look at the right they. I love verse 20. “So I answered them,” them, the wrong they, this is Nehemiah, and said to them, “The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build,” we’re not going to vote, we’re not going to discuss it. We’re not going to answer all the little minutia, all the little questions, we’re just going to do it. Ain’t nothing to it but to do it. Say it with me, Ain’t nothing to it but to do it. Oh you can do better than that. Ain’t nothing to it but to do it. Yeah. That’s what Nehemiah was saying. And when you got the right they in your life, that’s what they are going to say. “Hey girl, ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it.” “Hey my brotha’, ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it.” Arise and build. God will give us success.
So, real opportunity is God opportunity. Real opportunity is this divine track that God has for everybody’s life. The wrong they are always going to slurp Hater-aide. They’re always going to guzzle it, man. And the wrong they are going to hate on you when you have any measure of success.
What’s your name? Courtney, when you build anything in your life for God, guess what? The wrong they, Courtney, they’re going to drink Hater-aide, man. They’re going to be envious and jealous of your success. People who drink Hater-aide want what you want, but they’re not willing to do what you’ve done to get to where you are.
Also, people in the wrong they, they’re going to be envious of the blessings of God. Here’s what I found out about God. God’s favor ain’t fair. I don’t know why God blesses certain people. I just don’t know. I get to travel around a lot and look at people, I’m like, “Lord, why did you bless him? He’s not that bright. He’s not that good-looking, he’s not that cool, man. God, why did you bless her? I mean her?” God’ favor ain’t fair. I can’t, it’s the sovereignty of God. The blessings of God. Your real friends, though, the right they, they’re going to cheer you on Courtney when you’re blessed, when you’re successful. But remember, whenever you step out and do God’s work, you’re going to have people who just won’t dig it. That’s ok. Remember, there’s no opportunity without opposition, and opposition simply alerts us to what? To the position that God has given us. So God has an amazing position for all of us. Everybody here is a leader.
“But Ed, wait a minute. I’m at home, and I got little preschoolers pulling at me. You mean I’m a leader, I’m an influencer?” I would argue that that is probably the most important leadership task on the planet. You could be the CEO of the world, I mean, that’s, you know, a big-time job and all that, but I don’t think it compares to being a mom. Single-parents – wow, you’re leaders. Coaches, teachers. Leaders. Those who are in law enforcement – amazing leaders. So all of us are leaders. Students, you’re leaders, man. You’re leaders.
And the wrong they will try to keep you in the fray and go, “Oh, you’re not a leader. What you’re doing Courtney, is not that big a deal. No one is watching you.” I mean, come one. Here is where it really gets serious and the plot clots. Because we have to have the ability to surround ourselves with the right they, and let me tell you why. Self esteem is a major, major thing. Our world tells us, our culture says, “Look inside yourself.” Now, when I look inside myself, I’m totally jacked up. I’m looking at someone who is fallen and fallible. That’ll really mess me up. Inside myself? I’m a self-centered sinner. I won’t find anything inside myself. You won’t either. “Look inside yourself… Hmmm… Examine your navel.”
A true self esteem. If you want to discover who you are, if you want to discover how amazing you are, how creative you are, how innovative you are, what a genius you are, all you gotta do is just go vertical. Look at God. How does God see you? We’re made in the image of God. That’s just crazy. We’re God’s workmanship, the Bible says. If I have a healthy self-esteem, I need to see myself the way God sees me.
Also though, I’ve got to surround myself with the right they. Because the right they will point me back to God. So my primary props come from God, the secondary props come from the right they. If I have the wrong they in my life, watch this now, I won’t compare myself to God vertically, I’ll just compare myself to the wrong they, and I’ll become one of them. You’re not a them. You’re not at them.
And that’s what happened right here in Nehemiah’s life. Nehemiah chapter 2 – the right they, the wrong they. The wrong they, they don’t like success. They’re always going to question your motives, “Why are you doing this Nehemiah? Why build the wall now? I might just tell the king on you.” Isn’t that interesting? It’s so modern, it’s crazy. I love the Bible. The Bible just keeps it real.
Let’s get down to Nehemiah chapter 4. And if you want to do something fun, just go through Nehemiah, every chapter, and circle they, they, they, they, they – time and time again – they, they, they, they. Give me a T. That’s good. Give me an H. Give me an E. Give me a Y. What’s that spell? I’m glad you said it.
Verse 12, Nehemiah 4. “When the Jews who lived near them,” the wrong they, “came and told us ten times, “They will come up against us from every place where you may turn,” They. They. Man, the right they were reading the blogs from the wrong they. You know what blog means? B.L.O.G.? Basement Living, Opinion Giving. Blog. I just wanted to, I mean, I have a blog. And blogs aren’t all bad, I just thought that was funny, I heard that the other day, you know, sometimes you gotta just throw things in just to laugh. But it is true a lot of times, it is true.
Look at verse 14. “When I saw their fear,” uh-oh, “I rose and spoke to the nobles,” this is Nehemiah, “the officials and the rest of the people: “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses.”
Don’t forget what I just read, because I’m going to give you some stats right now, some variable right now, some things right now about the wrong they. Do you want to know if you’re hanging out with the wrong they, I mean do you? I mean, it’s something that we constantly deal with. Everybody, balcony people, yeah, yeah, everybody does. Ok.
Number 1. The wrong they will do this. I’ve already laid the foundation for it, but they will keep you from being you. If you don’t want to be you, then hang out with the wrong they. But again, as I always say, when you clock out of here, and when I clock out of here, we’re all going to die, right? God’s not going to say, “Why weren’t you more like Courtney?” He’s going to say, “Why weren’t you more like you?” That’s why I did this rap. Have you guys seen the hip-hop song I just released – You Be You, right? You be you. That’s what God’s going to say. So if I hang out with the right they, the right they are going, “Ed, get your primary props from God, and secondarily, right, they’re showing me the love of God because they have the Lord in their lives and it’s a beautiful thing. So you have the vertical piece and the horizontal piece, and Oh, that’s the cross. Wow. The wrong they.
The wrong they will keep you from stepping up. They’ll just make you kind of turtle up. You know what turtle up means, don’t you? “(sound of retracting into shell) Oh, I’m just going to play it safe. I’m just not going to risk it. I’m just not going to roll the dice. I’m just not going to start the company. I’m not going to go out for the team. I’m not going to start the church. I’m not going to send my resume out for that job I always dreamed about – no, no, no, no.”
The wrong they, are little poodles barking at what? (Train noises) Freight trains, man. (More train noises and barking noises in rhythm) That could be a new one, man, right there! I gotta do that. That’s a good beat man. I feel another song coming on. I’m gonna really, I’m telling ya, I love hip-hop. And I love writing rap. Man, I’m telling you. If you want to unleash your creativity, do something like watercolor – this is free of charge here – watercolor, sculpture, rhyme, rap, whatever you have to do man. Drink a lot of espresso. Man, that creativity it’s, because all of us are creative geniuses. We just have the creativity beat out of us from the wrong they. We really do. Study anything about childhood development, and study anything about kids, kids score on a creative genius level, and once they get to be about 3rd or 4th grade, they just lose it. I think, I don’t know if it’s the educational system, or the hum-drum of life. It just absolutely beats the fool, beats the creativity out of us. Anyway, that’s a whole nother subject. If this goes on television, our people are like, “Ok, we’ll edit that out. What was Ed doing?” That’s an A.D.D. moment. Or an E.D.D. moment.
So, it keeps you from being you. The wrong they. Keeps you from stepping up on the wall, right? Also, the wrong they will keep you frozen in fear. “(Shivering) Man, I can’t begin to build because what if it doesn’t work. I can’t begin to build because what if it crumbles. I can’t begin to build because what if it just doesn’t come together?” that’s the fun of it. That’s where faith comes in.
When was the last time you tried something that you knew wouldn’t work unless God showed up in a huge way. When was the last time? We need to be living lives like that? We need to be out there. And as I’ve said throughout this series on Nehemiah, the wrong they are always smaller than the right they. Always smaller, always smaller. Why? They’re on the ground looking up at the right they. The right they are always on the wall doing the work.
If you want Scripture to substantiate that, this afternoon, read the book of Numbers and think about the wrong they and the right they. 10 of the 12 spies were the wrong they. And they spread the negativity all over the children of Israel. 2 million of them were getting ready to go into the land that God had already given them. And because of their negativity, because they were slurping Hater-aide, what happened? They didn’t make it in. God allowed them to roam in the wilderness for 40 years and 2 million of them went horizontal and died. Because when you go horizontal, you can’t look ahead, right? They died and only 2 out of 2 million made it into the Promised Land. I wonder who those cats were. The right they. I wonder who those guys were. Joshua and Caleb. The right they.
Now, let’s talk about the right they. I’ve talked about the wrong they. The sway of they. They always have something to say. How about the right they? Give me a T. The right they are tough. Tough! Jesus is tough. We have this weird picture of Jesus that artists have painted. Pale, frail, blue-eyed, decaf skinny white boy type image. That’s not Jesus. A man’s man, think about a carpenter. Carpentry back in biblical times, you had to do everything from the foundational work, all the way out to the finish out, man. This guy was tough. Tender, tough. A man’s man. The right they in your life – they gotta be tough. They gotta be willing to fight. Fight for the vision. Fight to take turf. Fight to take the Promised Land. Fight to build the wall. Fight, fight, fight. Do you have people in your life who are tough, who are tenacious?
Give me an H. They gotta be honest. They gotta be honest. Speak the truth in love. See, the right they, they have this affinity going on, and accountability always emerges out of affinity. I don’t just walk up to Courtney and say, “Hey Courtney, guess what? You gonna be accountable to me.” I don’t even know Courtney. She be like, “What?” You gotta know somebody, you gotta get to know somebody. Earn the trust, earn the respect, earn the love. Then, if you’re the right they, it can flow.
Give me an E. Encouraging. Encouraging. I don’t want somebody discouraging around me. Do you? I got enough of that, so do you. Our whole world is sort of negative, you know, the why people. “Why, why, why?” whenever you say “Why” it sounds like “whine” you want some cheese with that whine? “Why, why, why?”
And I’m a why-guy. Why is not a bad question. Too many leaders, though, too many single parents, too many managers, too many CEO’s, too many pastors, too many coaches, too many real estate folks, too many doctors, too many lawyers waste too much time explaining the whys. Too much time. “Well, let me sit down and explain to you the what’s and why’s and the how’s.” As leaders, you don’t have the time, nor do I have the time to sit down and explain the what’s and the why’s and the how’s behind every decision. If God did that for me or for you, we would die with God explaining the what’s and the why’s and the how’s. It’s trust. And Courtney, the right they trust. Trust. Trust. So we need people to build us up, to encourage us.
Read the New Testament. One another, one another, one another, one another, one another, one another – you know what that’s saying? They, they, they, they, they, they, they. The right they.
Give me a Y. they need to be Yielded. Yielded. Yielded yes-men or yes-women. Yielded, man, yielded. Yielded to God vertically. And yielded to your friendship. Yielded. Another leadership lesson from Nehemiah, and really throughout the pages of Scripture, if you lead anybody in any realm, once you make the decision, if you’re the point leader, that decision, if you surround yourself with the right they, becomes our decision. So if it’s a yes or a no, and we need to be able to bring it. Speak the truth in love, right, behind closed doors, in the meetings, express your opinion. Come strong with it. That’s good, that’s good, that’s good. But then you make the decision, and you say, “Ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it.” Say it again, “Ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it.”
But if someone leaves that meeting, a student, child, someone that reports to you, your paralegal, staff member, nurse or whatever, if they leave that meeting and then say, “Well, I wouldn’t have done it this way, but that’s what ‘you know who’ said.” Ooh. Warn them once, fire them quick. Say it with me, “Warn them once, fire them quick.”
Now, you can’t fire your kids, parents. But you need to get up in their grill and discipline them. Because we don’t always have time, do we, as parents, to explain the what’s and the why’s and the how’s and the when’s. We don’t always have time as leaders to do that. So the right they, they’re going to be with you.
I love David. You remember David? He was on the run. David. I’m talking about David, Old Testament David. David had these mighty men around him. And the mighty men came to him, you know what David asked him? He asked them one simple question, and it’s weird, when I first read it. He didn’t say, “Ok, how deep are you spiritually? Have you taken a spiritual gifts test?” He didn’t ask that. “Are you a fan?” He didn’t ask that of David’s might men. He asked them one question, “Are you with me?” I thought that was interesting. “Are you with me?” The right they, they’re with you. They got your back. The right they. They sway of they. What am I saying? I’m saying, the right they always have He in the middle.
Ok, let’s get very specific. I’m going to end this talk with 6 questions. I’m going to run through these so quick, you won’t believe it. 6 questions that you’ve got to ask yourself, that I ask myself regularly, to discern the right they and the wrong they. Now, you’re going to know some wrong they people, that’s cool. Show them the love. But don’t allow them to get into the sway. Because leaders, right, stay on the wall, and pray. That’s what Nehemiah did. Non-leaders jump down in the fray with the wrong they and become prey, P.R.E.Y. So either pray or become prey.
Well, how do you know? “Ed, I really want to know, man, how do I know. Please tell me, Ed, how do I know if I’m hanging out with the right they.” Well, I’m glad you asked. 6 quick questions. And you must answer yes to every one of these. These are straight from Scripture, principles from Scripture.
Number 1 – I’m talking about the right they – do they motivate me to love God more? Do they motivate me to love God more? “Well, I think he’s a believer. He makes a lot of money and he’s really cute.”
Number 2 – Do they celebrate God’s blessings in my life? That’s tough. That’s a sign of friendship. What you do when your friend is blessed. What do you do when your friend is blessed? What do you do when your friend closes the deal or gets the inheritance or gets the promotion? What do you do, man? What do you do? Envy begins so often where our influence ends. Materialism begins where our income ends. Hello?
Number 3. It always gets quiet when we’re all convicted. I’m convicted too, it’s like, “Oh, ok.” Number 3 – do they have my back? All you gotta do is go for an opportunity, experience opposition, and then just turn around – who’s got your back? Oh man, that’s the right they. It’s very simple. It’s very, very simple. That’s the right they.
Number 4. Do they hold me accountable out of love and friendship? Accountability emerges out of affinity. Do you have accountability in your life?
Number 5. Do they live what they believe? Do they live what they believe? Walk and talk. Sync up. Ok. “Yeah, I’m a Christian.”
“Really? Are you involved in a church?”
“No, I just kind of hop and shop.”
“No, seriously, are you a Christian?”
“Where are you serving?”
“Well, I don’t really serve. I just go from here to there and yonder.”
Huh. That’s not working. The wrong they. The wrong they. The wrong they.
Number 6, last one. Do they have the right they in their lives. Do they have the right they in their lives. I can take your cell phone, anybody’s cell phone, now I’ve been picking on Courtney who I don’t know until we talked during this service. I can take Courtney’s cell phone… What’s your name my brother? What’s up Brian? I can take your cell phone – you can take my cell phone. We can trade cell phones. I can do it for everybody here – balcony, floor, whatever. And just scroll through the names, and I can tell you and you can tell me with amazing accuracy our future. Right they, wrong they. Wrong they, right they. Right they, wrong they. I don’t even have to know you. I can just say, “Hey Courtney, how you doing?” Use you as an example. What’s up, my brother? And you don’t know me, you know. You hear me talk, but you don’t really know me. You can call the people on my phone, phone. Say it with me, Phone. And you can tell my future.
What did they influence you to do that you would not have done if they hadn’t been around? The sway of they.
Let’s pray together.
God, this is a message that we all need. I know I need it. And I believe everybody who has ears can say the same because it comes from your word. And Lord, I ask that by your Holy Spirit that we apply these truths and principles. That we move to the right they, that we’re constantly thinking about these qualities. That we’re constantly thinking about your boy Nehemiah who got it right. Also, like, your boy Samson who really struggled in this area.
Father, we want to take the land, we want to build the wall, we want to seek and to seize opportunity after opportunity, and we know that we do it before you and also before others. And father, may we get our props from your primarily and secondarily through the right they. May we love everybody, may we be about building the wall.
God, some here need to ask you to take control of their lives. You need to go, “God, I’ve been running this show and I want you to run the show.”
You might be going, “Well, how do I do that, Ed?”
You just say it. “God, take control of me. Jesus, take control of everything in my life. I give you taxes, title, license, everything Lord. Boom, it’s yours. I turn from my sin, my moral mistakes, my turnovers, and I turn to you, Jesus.” Just say that. “Jesus Christ, take control of my life. Jesus Christ, come into my life.”
You might be going, “Well, man, I need to know more about the what’s and the why’s and the how’s.” Maybe, but in reality, you need to know what I just told you – that God loves you, that he sent Jesus to die on the cross for your sins and rise again. You either receive it or not. I mean, it’s going to be the same deal, even if you study the what’s and the why’s and the how’s for 14 years. So some of you are at that point to say it.
Others of you, yeah, you can trace down some what’s and why’s and how’s, that’s cool, but just say, “Jesus, come into my life.”
Lord, we give this time to you. I ask that no one would move or stir during this holy, holy moment while you’re doing transactions in our lives. We ask all these things in Christ’s name, Amen.