Leaders are Bold (Nehemiah 2:1-8)
In these verses, we see Nehemiah putting feet and action to his prayers to God. He boldly asks the king if he may go and rebuild the wall that had been destroyed in Jerusalem. This was a bold request because not only did he ask for leave to go and rebuild it, but he asked for help in getting it done. He needed the king’s help in getting the wall built and knew he would have to ask for this help. But as Nehemiah says: “And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me” (Nehemiah 2:8b ESV emphasis mine). This reminds me of a statement in Jesus on Leadership where Wilkes makes the statement, “Good leaders cultivate the ability to read current events and thus have a strong sense of what the future may bring” (p. 65). I believe because of Nehemiah’s care and prayer, he was able to foresee that the king would grant his request. He read the current situation well. Nehemiah, during the discussion prayed as well (Neh. 2:4) so as to ensure the time was right and to seek God’s blessing.
Leaders Assess the Situation (Nehemiah 2:13)
“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”(Neh. 2:13 ESV).
Nehemiah took the time to see what it was he needed to do before he did it. Good leaders take the time to assess the situations they are in and don’t just rush in and try to fix things. This is a lesson I personally need to learn. I love to rush into things without thinking and without assessing the situation. Generally I have a good sense of what must be done but have no inclination towards the steps to get there unless I sit down and assess the full picture. Too often in my life I have rushed into things and have hindered the progress of getting things done. Nehemiah didn’t make that mistake. He didn’t rush it nor did he cause anyone to freak out. He simply took time out to go and inspect the walls to see what needed to be done. He took stalk in the places that needed extra care and the places that would be quick and easy to rebuild.
In my limited experience, I’ve seen and heard of pastors getting fired because they tried to rush change. Too many spiritual leaders, like me can see the situation and know where things need to change and be rebuilt, but they don’t usually take the time to assess the whole situation. This has resulted in them leaving by force or by desire because of the lack of simply assessing the situation. Warren Wiersbe says a few things as well on this idea.
“Investigating (Neh. 2:11–16). After his long difficult journey, Nehemiah took time to rest; for leaders must take care of themselves if they are going to be able to serve the Lord (Mark 6:31). He also took time to get “the lay of the land” without arousing the concern of the enemy. A good leader doesn’t rush into his work but patiently gathers the facts firsthand and then plans his strategy (Prov. 18:13). We must be “wise as serpents” because the enemy is always watching and waiting to attack. (Wiersbe, 1996, p. 30)
Leaders Cast Vision (Nehemiah 2:17)
“Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision’” (Neh. 2:17 ESV)
Nehemiah has taken the time to assess the situation, has taken the time to care about these people and has taken the time to pray to ask God what must be done. Finally, he is ready to cast the vision to the people and get them on board with the mission. His steps were deliberate and wise. He didn’t rush into telling them what must be done and how he Nehemiah was going to do it. He took the time to patiently seek the Lord and to patiently see what ought to be done and think through how best to get it done. He casted vision but not prematurely and in a way that rallied the people around the vision.
Wilkes says: “Leadership begins when a God-revealed mission captures a person” (p. 19) and I believe that the God-revealed mission has captured Nehemiah and he is ready to start working on the rebuilding of the wall. He can now, captured by the vision, perfectly articulate that vision to the people and speak of it in such a way that people can see the end result. It’s as Wilkes said of Jesus “Jesus articulated his mission in order to define what he was as Messiah. Where and how he led flowed from a clear sense of why he had come in the first place…he led with a vision of what things would look like when he completed that mission” (p. 11).