Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah : Lesson #6

Leaders investigate situations firsthand.

Upon arrival in Jerusalem, Nehemiah took three days to rest, plan, and to pray. One of the first activities afterwards was to survey the walls of Jerusalem for himself. “So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days.  Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode.  And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire.  Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal under me to pass.  So I went up in the night by the valley, and viewed the wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned.” (2:11-15) He had heard the report on the condition of Jerusalem’s walls from a distance. It was this report that broke his heart and created within him a burden to act. In the middle of the night, he arose and began his own physical survey of the destruction. This “fact finding mission” was necessary for two reasons. First, seeing the damage with his own eyes would solidify Nehemiah’s resolve and fuel his passion to rebuild the walls of the city he so dearly loved. Second, seeing the damage with his own eyes allowed Nehemiah to calculate costs, manpower, and time needed to see the project through.

Regardless of the situation, whether it be related to personnel, finances, construction, etc., leaders have a responsibility to investigate to the point they have a comfortable and working knowledge of all matters at hand. This enables the leader, whether spiritual or secular, to remain connected to the organization he/she leads and make the appropriate decisions. This does not mean that leaders have to step in and fix everything for themselves. This is counterproductive. Dr. Al Mohler, in his new book, 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters, sums up this point succinctly. He writes,

Organizations change fast as the world changes around us. The effective leader deploys others within the organization to become specialists in the wide array of knowledge necessary to the total work. But that same leader has to make sure that he can at least hold an intelligent, helpful conversation with each of those leaders and managers about their work. The best leaders take this as an intellectual and organizational challenge that they grow to relish and appreciate. After all, our task is to deploy people so that each can do his or her job. In order to do this, we need to know what that job is, and that takes time and attention.

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