Leaders are well prepared and think of needs in advance
Nehemiah 2 gives us a fresh perspective on Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” The simple lesson in this quote is that planning is critical to success in any endeavor. Nehemiah had his heart broken over the condition of the city and people of Jerusalem. He prayed and God burdened his heart with a desire and goal to rebuild the city walls of Jerusalem. So consumed with his goal, he took leave of his duties at the king’s side to see it through. A great deal happened in between the time God spoke to Nehemiah and Nehemiah speaking to the king. Verses seven and eight are the portrait of a key leadership trait. “ Furthermore I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.” And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.” Nehemiah thought in advance what it would take to accomplish his God-given goal. He then presented this list of supplies and needs to the king when he asked for leave to Jerusalem. His request was honored. Imagine the scene conversely. Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem, looks around and says, “Okay, who has the timber for the wall gates?” Imagine the awkwardness. Imagine the delay in the work. Imagine the disappointment of those who were trusting his leadership.
It is crucial for leaders to be prepared. They owe such preparation to God. They owe such preparation to those who are trusting their guidance. They owe such preparation to themselves for the sake of credibility. Whether leading in the spiritual or secular arena, those who would consider themselves “leaders” must think in advance so they might confront the fears, calm the anxieties, and elevate the confidence of those was are trusting them. A leader must be prepared to answer questions such as “What is involved in this endeavor?” “What will be the benefit?” “What are the challenges and potential obstacles ahead?” “What can we do to support this?” As a result of Nehemiah’s forethought, God was honored and the people encouraged. His leadership style flies in the face of what I would call “off-the-cuff” leadership. This style of leadership is rarely effective and is almost always frustrating and discouraging.