Lesson #1: If you feel it is necessary to continually remind people you are the leader, there is a real possibility you are not.
Lesson #2: Be Last.
Lesson #3: Praise Publicly. Correct Privately. Encourage Consistently.
Lesson #4: Listen and allow input. Never let yours be the only voice you hear.
Lesson #5: Leaders move forward and grow by looking back and learning. Leaders who are successful consistently evaluate past decisions to ensure better future decisions.
Lesson #6: Followership is a prerequisite to leadership. If you have a difficult time following you will have an even more difficult time leading.
Lesson #7: Be patient. There are times when no action is the best action.
Lesson #8: It is okay to not be the smartest person in the room.
Lesson #9: Leaders are well prepared and think of needs in advance.
Nehemiah 2 offers a fresh perspective on Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” His quote reminds us that planning is critical to success in any endeavor. Nehemiah’s heart was broken over the condition of the city and people of Jerusalem. God burdened his heart with a desire to rebuild the city walls. Nehemiah took leave of his duties at the king’s side to lead the rebuilding effort. Nehemiah made his needs to clear 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 2:17-18)
Nehemiah knew in advance what it would take to accomplish his God-given task. He then presented his needs to the king when he asked for leave to go to Jerusalem. His request was honored. Imagine Nehemiah arriving in Jerusalem, looking around and saying, “Okay, here we are, did anyone think to bring timber to repair 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 the people they are leading. 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 combat fears, calm the anxieties, and elevate the confidence of those who are following. 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?” “How will we be better off if we change what we are doing?” Because of Nehemiah’s forethought, God was honored and the people encouraged. His leadership style flies in the face of “off-the-cuff” leadership. This style of leadership is rarely effective and is almost always frustrating and discouraging.