“Sustaining Leadership Practices for Church Growth in Cambodia” / Part 9 /




1.             3.     Insights from the rebuilding project 

On the surface, the details of a long-ago construction project may seem irrelevant. But this account is more than a collection of minor facts.[1] By studying these insights carefully, we can learn leadership and management principles which apply to modern-day projects: beginning a new church, build a new facility, launching a mission outreach and so forth.[2] Furthermore, Nehemiah demonstrated his sound management and leadership skills which made him be one of the central figures in the post exilic Jewish history.[3] Planning, organizing, leading, and controlling are the management dimensions that we are going to a discussion from the construction work of Nehemiah.

1.1          3.1.    Planning

“So I prayed to the God of heaven.”[4] Being a leader of the prayer, Nehemiah was also treated as the leader that always careful with his plan setting and strong-minded in action. Nehemiah was grief-stricken over the city of Jerusalem’s mournful situation and report, but he didn’t work out immediately.[5] He took the time to think, identify the issues, set out the plan and worked the plan. God’s plan, at the same time, was to restore the Israelite by calling Nehemiah and set him apart in order to reach outsiders. God wanted his people to demonstrate to others the benefits of righteousness and fellowship with him again. Initially, building the wall of Jerusalem is supposed the main task but Nehemiah’s planning and objective are to build up the spiritual life of the people. Plan setting must set up according to the priority of the case. Bob Munson presents that Nehemiah concentrated on the priority of the things first, which was to build the wall, but later on, he changed the attitude of the people and also challenges the local leadership.[6] To speak in another way around, building the spiritual life of the Israelite was Nehemiah’s primary concern and the planning of building the wall will come up next. Therefore, at the end of the project, Nehemiah was being able to bring the Israel people back to God. People’s spirit is the first thing that Nehemiah’s going to build, for he did understand the situation and their spiritual status.

Next, after worked out with the emotional and spiritual life of the people, Nehemiah started to devise his plan in order to build the wall. Initially, while he was still serving the king as the cup bearer in Susa, Nehemiah already set the plan by seeking the support from the king and asked the king for his authorization. The bible does tell us that Nehemiah spent about four months to plan the construction work and to pray for the guidance from the Lord as well as planning how to ask people to involve the work. A leader must lead wisely. Nehemiah does not even tell his mission and plan at the beginning. Why had he kept it secret then (2:12)? Two reasons may explain Nehemiah’s secrecy of plan: (1) Jerusalem, without its protecting walls, was populated with many Jon-Jews and was a hotbed of political intrigue.[7] Spies would be willing to sell secrets to enemies of the Jews.[8] (2) Any attempt to rally the demoralized Jews to rebuild the walls without a clear plan would breed skepticism among those he needed to inspire.[9] The other thing is that before planning, the leader must know how to collect the first-hand information; that’s why Nehemiah made out his secret trip to see all the damage wall in order to discuss with people later on. For example, the construction sides involved over 40 sections of the wall and 10 different gates and his objective of the plan is to reconstruct it. To put in short, leaders have to aware the purposes of the plan and what primary plans have to make in order to achieve the goals. Therefore, Nehemiah could arrange and put the people into different teams and appointed them to respond the tasks accordingly to their professional and talents; by doing so people could understand their duties well and also the works can be accomplished according to the plan.

As regards to our present time, leaders must know the case of the primary issue and at the same time being aware of setting up the goal of the plan, for it is just very essential to the project. In the globalization of management theory today, there are two well-known quotes also emphasizes the crucial thing of doing planning, which the two are presented by Zig Ziglar and Benjamin Franklin. "If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time," Zig Ziglar said, and "If you fail to plan, you are the plan to fail," added by Franklin. Hence, from the context of these two quotes, we can reflect that goal setting or planning are important before leaders take out actions. Truly, the unchangeable of the plan set is never formatted away no matter in which period of time or in what culture is. Back to Nehemiah's case in his setting the plan, indeed there were many other technical challenges like what kind of building tools are needed, what were the designs of the gates’ frame, how to layout gates, and how to check out the quality by ensuring the wall and the gates are firmed or not, etc. In this connection, the team leaders, team managers, and workers are required to have enough capabilities, proficiency and skillful. To the present church leaders or pastors, in order to set a plan for the further ministry; somehow they must need a core team that full of the accountabilities, expertise, knowledge and professions in order to devise a detailed plan with standardization.

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