Nehemiah 3:25: and to the corner. Palal the son of Uzai repaired opposite the buttress and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king at the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh (ESV)
Though serving in the palace of the king, he felt a thick sense of displeasure and dissatisfaction when he was told that the wall of Jerusalem have been burnt down and the people there demoralised.
He identified intensely and intuitively with the plight of his people, as if he was there. It was the same with Jesus. Though in heaven, in the very throne of God, he was identified with our need and as Nehemiah was sent by the king to do something about what he cared about that concerned his people, Jesus was sent by the father to save us because he was concerned about us. He came down to the earth to express that love and take the initiative to save men.
For Nehemiah to save the situation in Israel at that time, he had to take responsibility for solving the problem.
He was able to leverage on his influence with the king, and come with his resources to bring succour to his people. The same with Jesus, who came with the power of the Holy Spirit to solve human’s problem.
However along the way, there were oppositions that they (Nehemiah and Jesus) surmounted by their strong faith in God, and uncommon zeal to seeing the executive of their tasks.
Nehemiah was not going to be deterred through any means. What needed to be done was very clear in his heart, and why and how. He had strategy, he made on the spot assessment of the observed scene, and was able to galvanise the people behind the vision. When people see a man of means (with the provision and authority to solve the problem) and vision, they follow. That is the essence of leadership.
There are seven laws of the leadership that will bring change.
- Know what
The leader needs to know what needs to be done. You are only a leader because there is a problem to be solved, which needs the deployment of human and material resources. Therefore a leader must by definition have a clearer view of the problem than most.
He must define it to himself first, before he can do the same for others. He cannot come across as one who does not have a full grasp of the problem.
For that to happen we need to get the right information about what needs to be done. Nehemiah’s brother Hanani fed him with the information about the broken-down wall, and when he travelled down before he called people to rally round him, he went round the scene.
He did not presume to seek to call people to rally round a vision that was not clear to him. The level of your knowledge about something will determine the level of confidence you express when you speak and that affects how you are able to convince people to follow the cause. You have to be seen to know what the problem is before people can trust the solution you propose. That means you need to be an expert in listening.
Jesus had to become man, in fully identification with man, so be the saviour. He expressed absolute understanding of the need of man, so we can trust his solution. The bible says Jesus did not need to be told about the problem of man (John 2:25).
Nehemiah went to Jerusalem to see things for himself, and afterwards did not need to be told. He did not come like a foreign overlord, he came as one of them, who feels what they feel.
And the bible says that we do not have an high priest (Jesus, the solution bringer) who cannot be touched by the feeling of our infirmity but was tempted on all point yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). His name is called Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). He knows the temptation and can help us to overcome.
- Know why
A leader does not just know what needs to be done but also why. He is a man of conviction. Nehemiah knew what he came to do and why it was important.
Nehemiah knew the wall needed to be built to increase the morale of the people. The people had returned to the land of Jerusalem, but the wall around reminded the people of the wrath and not the favour of God. And a rebuilt wall will mean the favour of God has returned to the people, hence the intense prayer of repentance in intercession that Nehemiah embarked on, together with fasting, when he heard of the burnt down walls.
Jesus also by his intercession, through the shedding of his blood, made us to become objects of the favour of God unto eternal life.
Respectively, the situation of man and the situation in Jerusalem made did not make Jesus and Nehemiah happy. So even on a personal level, they were convinced they needed to do something about it, hence they assumed responsibility and leadership for making change a reality. Knowing the “why” and making it part of your personal fulfilment, helps to keep the focus on the goal when the going gets tough.
- Know how
What is the use of knowing the “what” and “why” without the “how,” the strategy? Before Nehemiah called the people around the vision, he knows how the situation will be resolved. He has thought it out. Therefore the quality of your thought is the quality of your leadership.
There was no need to call a committee. Once what needed to be done was clear, the leader provides how it should be done, having invested more time into thinking about the problem, and taken personal responsibility to do it.
While others are concerned about their day to day survival, the leader in Nehemiah and Jesus caused them to leave their comfort zone, and take on a task that gives benefit to the whole group. A true leader looks beyond himself. He is selfless.
To get the highest commitment level possible for those involved in the wall building, i.e. the Israelites rallied to do the work, most worked before their own houses, somewhere they were personally identified with. It follows that leaders should be adept at making people work in the area of their strength, their giftings, round peg in round holes.
The work was not just to make Nehemiah (the leader) look good, the people were personally identified with the work, it makes them also look good. And without the right strategy the vision is mere wishful thinking.
Communication is the linchpin of leadership. Communication has to be constant, continuous, and pervasive. Nehemiah was quintessential communicator. At the beginning of the project his communication was so effective that he was able to rally almost everyone to the task.
They did have the attitude that this was a man coming from abroad, who does he think he is trying to tell everybody what to do? He impressed on them that to make that effort was for their own good. They never felt they were being used, as part of Nehemiah’s egomaniac pursuit, they saw him as a man of genuine concern and they were able to throw themselves into the task.
He connected with their unspoken needs and desires, reminded them of their history; showed them what was possible.
Communication is not just verbal, it is also practical. Nehemiah was personally involved in the work, and by his personal sacrifices, way above others, he motivated others to do the same.
David, motivated others by the material things that he gave towards the building the temple in his time. Jesus, by his sacrifice of his life laid an example for us to follow. He died for us, we are therefore called to live for him.
As the Nehemiah project progressed, and there was need for a change of strategy because of threats against the work, the communication for the new strategy was fast delivered down the line and everybody was on the same page. Communication strengthen unity without which not much can be done.
A leader must have the means of solving the problem. You are not a leader until you can command the resources to make something happen.
The bible says that money answers all things (Ecclesiastes 10:19). And Nehemiah came with the backing of the king, and with the resources at his disposal, the people knew the job could be done. They might not be that willing to join a dreamer, a failing cause, something that will not deliver its promises.
A leader is known by the authority that backs him up. The opposition that came along the way would have swallowed up the job if not for the fact that Nehemiah came as a man with the king’s authority. He could not presume to do the work otherwise. The task was not just some fancy idea in his head. Jesus also came with the authority of heaven and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Vision is not just about what is being aimed at but also how the aim will be taken. It is about an holistic picture of where we are, where we need to get to and how we will get there, with feasible timeline. A compelling vision will demand action.
God told Habakkuk: write the vision, make it plain on tablets that he may run who reads it (Habakkuk 2:1-4). If what is “read” does not lead to a form of running, it did not impact a strong enough vision. A compelling vision must come with timeline. It must have a time to begin.
When God asked Moses to rescue the Israelites, he made it clear to him that in his timeline, the time was now, so he could go forward with amazing conviction. A man of vision commands the confidence of the followers by the strength of what he had seen as possible. When Moses went to the leaders of Israel about his charge from God, they expressed commitment to him (Exodus 4:28-31).
A leader must have an infectious drive. It is about being single-minded when it comes to the task. He cannot publicly say something about the work and privately say another. He must pursue the goal with single-mindedness and the people will sense it.
A leader must be self-driven. You cannot be waiting for someone else to make the first move, you have to bell the cat, do the needful, take the right steps.
- Blog for Week of December 14, 2014 (oldgreenbrierbaptistchurch.typepad.com)
- Render to Israel (mymorningmeditations.com)
- The Victory is Ours through Our Lord Jesus Christ! (mydelightandmycounsellors.wordpress.com)