Nehemiah was an ordinary man placed in an extraordinary position—an exile explicitly trusted by the king of Persia to be the cupbearer. And yet, God called Nehemiah to something else and he emerged as one of the greatest leaders in the Bible.
Nehemiah was heartbroken when he heard the wall surrounding his home, Jerusalem, was still in ruins. He was motivated to rebuild the wall, to do a major job for God. It was complex and difficult. How did he accomplish this? Nehemiah had a plan.
As leaders, we must balance relying on God’s sovereignty with the necessity to plan well. We cannot be lazy. From the book of Nehemiah, here are seven steps for developing a plan:
1. Pray for vision from God.Nehemiah fervently prayed for four months before asking the king for help. Prayer wasn’t an afterthought, or something that happened after a plan was set in motion. As seen in chapter 1, for Nehemiah, prayer started each step of the plan. Make prayer your first step in everything you do.
2. Get the brutal, unvarnished facts.Understand your strengths and weaknesses, yet don’t become overwhelmed by what you lack. In chapter 2, Nehemiah went out, in the dead of night, to evaluate the wall ruins by himself. He didn’t rely on what he heard, nor did he assign someone else to handle it. He experience and evaluated the situation himself. Then, armed with all the information, he was able to plan the preparation.
3. Find the best people. In Nehemiah chapter 3, we see how each individual’s families had their area of expertise and were assigned a task. Get the right people and get them on your team. Involve your team in the planning process. For us, this means the staff, board, other ministry leaders, and even the community. Don’t plan alone.
4. Encourage your team to think with a critical mind, but without a critical heart. Count the cost as the plan relates to money, people, and time. It’s good to think about the bad that could happen along the way in order to avoid it. See Luke 14:28–31.
5. Commit and trust God to fulfill the plan. Starting in chapter 4, we see Nehemiah faced opposition—to the degree that men worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other, ready for an attack. We will endure times when everything takes longer and costs more than anticipated. Discouragement will come. And yet, like Nehemiah’s men, we must persist, because we know Who fights for us!
6. Do the most important things first. Find the critical path to success and stay focused. Despite distractions, Nehemiah and his men stayed focused on the plan.
Important things aren’t just work related. As we see in chapter 9, Nehemiah and the community took care of their
spiritual needs—they confessed their sins, fasted, and worshiped the Lord. Make sure you and your team are spiritually healthy.
7. Celebrate success. Acknowledge and rejoice as God provides victories. Have an attitude of thanksgiving, and look for opportunities to praise the Lord for all He does through your ministry.
Of course, we trust God’s sovereignty. But God loves it when we plan wisely. God will honour a well-thought plan.
What is your plan? What next step will you take as you respond to God’s calling?