Okay, so you got me. It’s not really Monday. Aaand, it’s not really morning. This was supposed to be posted yesterday, but I needed a day off to recoup from a busy and exciting weekend! Best of all, I got to spend some time with two fellow administrators, Belinda and Nancy, my sisters in the call.
Starting yesterday (lol), OIC will begin a new feature, called Monday Morning Manna. Every Monday, we’ll take a leadership lesson from a passage of scripture. To help us celebrate, on next Monday, we’ll have a special guest author.
A Word from Nehemiah
I love Nehemiah. He’s my role model; the ultimate administrator, and a near-perfect example of sound, effective, Godly, wise leadership. This morning, I was studying his story, and I noticed something I must’ve either missed or forgot. Follow me, if you will:
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
In the beginning of the book, we find that Nehemiah is brought some bad news about the wall of Jerusalem, and the Jewish survivors. Both were in desperately bad condition and needed quick help.
Nehemiah 2:1, 2:5
(1) And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.
(5) And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.
Now, if you’re familiar with this story (and as an administrator, executive pastor or senior pastor, you should be), you know that there are so many lessons to be learned here. Perhaps in time, we’ll revisit some of them. But here’s the piece I had missed (or forgotten). Chisleu (also referred to as Chislev) is the ninth month of the Jewish calendar (what is today the end of November and beginning of December). Nisan is the first month (March-April). There was a four month span between the time Nehemiah got the word and the time he requested time off from work to go do something.
The Bible doesn’t tell us what he did in that time, but it’s pretty safe to suppose that he took that time to prayerfully develop his plan. In 2:6, King Artaxerxes asked Nehemiah how much time he would need. In the next verse, we are told that Nehemiah gave him a time frame. Then, he went on to make specific requests that letters be sent requesting a work permit, a passport, lodging and supplies to rebuild the wall. Clearly, he had given this some thought.
Nehemiah had a plan. One of the mistakes leaders often make is to act before we assess. Many of us, when faced with an urgent situation will react emotionally and not spiritually. While most emotional reactions consist of acting first, then thinking/planning afterward, a spiritual reaction includes prayer, fasting, and strategic planning. The three go hand-in-hand, as demonstrated in this story. And that reaction is proven to yield results.
How many times have you had to “fix” something that wouldn’t have been broken if you had planned first? Or perhaps you’ve had to spend more time or pay more money, or even abort a project, because you didn’t plan it properly? Cancel a program? Reassign leaders? Rescind an invitation? Retrain? Relaunch? Redesign? Relocate? Redo… you get the point. We waste so much of our most valuable resource doing things over, just because we didn’t take time to plan it properly in the first place. And what about the times we don’t get an opportunity for a do-over? Sometimes, you only get one chance.
For whatever reason, Nehemiah waited four months before taking any action. Even after he got to Judah, he strategically took three days to survey the disaster zone and conduct an onsite assessment. He knew which key figures to approach to get what he needed. Because he was prepared and had thought it through in advance, he was able to mobilize and motivate a team of volunteers who were downtrodden and in despair to carry out a huge project in record time. As a result of his stellar leadership, not only did he rebuild the damaged wall, he also was able to rebuild the damaged people. There’s no telling what would’ve happened had Nehemiah gone to Judah without a plan. He could’ve destroyed the Jews’ spirits or cracked under the pressure of the opposition. Perhaps, he would’ve run out of resources or supplies. Shoot, he could’ve even been killed!
Whether you’re facing a major problem or project, or carrying out a vision or bright idea, stop, pray, fast, and take time to plan. Think ahead (Proverbs 13:16). Count the cost (Luke 14:28). Write the vision (Habakkuk 2:2). Trust me, you’ll get much better results if you follow Nehemiah’s lead.
To ensure success, you must have a plan (Proverbs 21:5).