NEHEMIAH: A GODLY LEADER CAREFULLY PLANS
(This is blog 2 in a series of blogs about leadership lessons from the life of Nehemiah. If you missed the previous blog, you can email me at email@example.com)
When Nehemiah heard the Jews back in Jerusalem had turned far from God, he prayed and fasted for four months. During that time God put an idea, a thought, in his mind. He had been praying for someone to go to Jerusalem and correct the situation there – perhaps he should be that person! Then one day the king asked what was bothering him. To be anything but joyful before the king was forbidden, but Nehemiah was honest and told the king he was sad over the state of his home, Jerusalem. Nehemiah had a very good reputation with the king, for the king asked Nehemiah what he would like to do about it. Nehemiah had the courage to tell him the plan God had given him, which was to return and rebuild Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-5).
For four months Nehemiah had patiently prayed and waited for God’s timing in this. He had prayed, knowing it all depended on God, but he had also done his part and planned what would be needed to do this work in Jerusalem. When the king asked for details about how he proposed to help Jerusalem, Nehemiah had all the answers (Nehemiah 2:6-8). He was patient in prayer, but he made plans so when the time was right, he could move ahead. We must patiently wait for God to open doors for us, but when they open, we must be prepared to move through them. We must plan ahead for work to be done.
A godly leader is a person who plans. Nehemiah knew the answer to the king’s questions about how long he would be gone, what materials and helpers he would need, letters of permission to travel and work, etc. He had anticipated the needs and planned how to take care of them. A godly leader doesn’t just pray, he also plans. He does both at once. He is patient for God’s timing, but when the time is right, he is ready to move ahead because he has been using the time to prepare. He anticipated the difficulties and made plans to overcome them before they happened.
For example, one of the reasons Jerusalem hadn’t been rebuilt was because the neighboring nations wanted to keep it weak. They had told the king the Jews were planning to rebel, so he commanded they not rebuild or improve the city or wall. Nehemiah knew that only Artaxerxes could reverse his edict and that Nehemiah would need to prove to these neighbors that he had permission to rebuild the city. That is why he asked for the letters. A godly leader patiently plans for the future.
Some leaders today are so anxious to start something, they barely pray about it, but just jump right in and then struggle to make it work. Others will patiently pray and wait, but then when they can begin, they are unable to do so because they aren’t prepared to move ahead. They haven’t saved enough money or trained the right people or made plans as to how to accomplish it. A godly leader must be patient, but also make good plans.
Are you guilty of quickly starting something new without enough prayer and planning? Or do you hesitate when there is an opportunity because you are afraid to take a chance and do something new? Do you pray and wait, but fail to plan so that when you can begin you don’t have the resources you need to make it happen?
It took Nehemiah several months to get ready for the trip and more months to travel to Jerusalem. It was almost a full year after hearing about the problem that he finally got to the place where he could do something about it. Some might have been impatient and wanted to get to work right away, but not Nehemiah. He spent time resting up and getting to know the leaders in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:11-12).
He gathered information about the situation there by going out at night and looking at the city and walls by himself (Nehemiah 2:13-16). He did it at night so others wouldn’t wonder why he was doing this or try to influence where he went or what he saw. He wanted to gather all the facts he could before making any decisions.
A decision is only as good as the information it is based on. Too often leaders make quick decisions without all the facts, only to find out later what they decided wasn’t the best decision they could have made. Sometimes we take the word of one person only later to find out there was more involved that we didn’t know about. If we let one person influence us without finding out all the facts, we won’t make wise decisions. We must be patient and gather all the information first. It is during the time we gather information that the Holy Spirit quietly speaks to us and gives us needed direction. We must be sensitive to what He says, not quickly jump to conclusions. A godly leader is careful. He looks before he leaps.
Think of a time you responded too quickly and didn’t know all the details. What was the result? Do you do that often? Do you have the necessary patience to withhold judgment or decisions until you have all the facts? What can you do to become more careful in your decisions?
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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