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Chapter XIV Nehemiah (The Navigator) Print E-mail
Written by Ray Fairman   

In Nehemiah 1:1-3:32 we are going to review some history on the leadership of Nehemiah, "a man with a plan", as the saying goes.  Although the U.S. Navy and I have a different way of saying the same thing, it goes like this, "anyone can steer a ship, but it takes a navigator to chart its course."

It seems logical under these circumstances for me to call the leadership principle exemplified by Nehemiah the Principle of Navigation. A high-quality leader never intentionally navigates by the seat of his or her pants, as the old proverb states, but rather sees the whole course of events in their minds eye before ever leaving the starting point. A first-class leader can see the destination; needs, obstacles and who it will take to accomplish the mission before they ever leave the dock, let alone cross the horizon to engage the unknown.


To navigate properly, a leader must balance optimism, reality, intuition, planning, faith and fact. When a leader plans carefully they convey confidence and capability. They may make any number of course corrections during the voyage based on encountered circumstances, but they will not find themselves without a following or the means to succeed. As a leader you need to clearly see farther than others can see toward the eventual solution of any task you may encounter. A leader must also be able to anticipate more than others regarding the support and logistics that the accomplishment of that interim task requires. A good leader will also realize before others, the reasons, justifications and desired results for the mission.

As an effective leader you will also need to develop your operational plan and prepare for its execution, so before we go any farther lets assess Nehemiah's planning process.

Before he did anything else Nehemiah clearly identified the problem and made it his personal problem. Then he spent time in prayer. Planning anything without consulting higher headquarters is not only foolish but is frequently indicative of an attitude tainted with arrogance; an arrogance often born out of power that so easily infects a leader with the sometimes-terminal disease of pride. Nehemiah then met with the key decision makers of his day regarding his vision. He was wise enough to realize that without the expressed and unified support of these critical leaders within his own organization, his efforts would most likely be futile or at most provide only superficial results. He next assessed both the immediate and the potential future circumstances. After he developed his plan of action (Mission Statement), he met with the people and broadcast his vision, encouraging them to participate and calling upon them to take action. When he received their support and agreement, he task organized them and began working toward the accomplishment of their "joint mission". As this mission progressed he made such adjustments as were necessary to assure its ultimate success.

It should be readily apparent that it takes a "trued" moral and ethical compass to navigate in the turbulent waters of our current society, where even in the church one can find the frequently conflicting winds of fundamentalism, fanaticism, liberalism, legalism and compromise often blowing doctrine about with hurricane force.

One last thing you as a leader must remember always is that it is not the Coxswain who takes the heat for arriving at the wrong target it's the navigator, and that mister leader is you!

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