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Summary: In this message we look at how leaders recognize the importance of planning. Our walk of faith does not exclude planning.

“The Value of a Great Plan”

Nehemiah 1:11-2:12

Perhaps all of us can recall our first job. Whether we were working part time or full time we all shared at least one thing in common. We had a boss. Someone in charge. A leader. Whether we enjoyed working for them is another matter-the point is, someone else was in charge-not us. For me, the summer following the sixth grade I went to work at a mission-a local homeless shelter. It was an interesting job to say the least.

There are few areas in life any of us are equipped for to step in as the boss, especially if it is our first job. As a young adult I remember a gentleman who was very wealthy. He owned a number of banks. He was also very generous. When his grandson was old enough to go to work full time, he gave him a gift. His own bank … made him President of the bank. That was his first job. As you can probably imagine it didn’t go very well. (1) He wasn’t prepared and (2) Because it had just been handed to him rather than him working his way up in the bank, the employees had no respect for him. Every leader will face a time when his or her employees will say something other than yes sir or no sir, yes mam or no mam. Something other than “sure”--- and you will have a confrontation on your hands. And when there is a confrontation someone has to give. Someone has to be flexible. When things become too rigid in the workplace someone will usually drop out.

Nehemiah worked under Artaxerxes, the King of Persia. And the King had a reputation for being very rigid. Just wouldn’t budge. Now as I said last week Nehemiah was in a position of influence …. he was in a position to greatly influence the king. He was the cupbearer. He was responsible for making sure no one could poison the king –the king trusted Nehemiah- he knew Nehemiah was on his side. But here’s the problem. Nehemiah’s heart wasn’t in Persia. Nehemiah eft his heart in Jerusalem. And it was his desire to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls but he couldn’t just leave. So there was the possibility of a confrontation between he and the king if this wasn’t handled properly. So what do you do?

Truth #1. For Nehemiah the answer was clear. The answer was and is prayer. Prayer is the first step to becoming a godly leader.

Nehemiah 1:11. Nehemiah was 1000 miles away from where he was working. So he prayed. And this is what happened. ….. Nothing. His story opens in the month of Chislev. (1:1) That’s December and it resumes in the month of Nisan. (2:1) That’s April. So for about 4 months nothing happens. Does that ever happen to you? You hear someone say, just pray to God and give Him the situation. So you went home and prayed and you prayed about this frustrating problem you have—and then you gave it your best prayer---Lord give me patience and give it to me right now!!!! A few days go by –-- a month --- 2 months --- 4 months and nothing happens and we’re like Lord, are you asleep? Remember when the disciples were in the boat and a storm came up?? ---- Jesus was asleep. They were like --- don’t you care that we’re about to drown? Did you hear me Lord? Well that was Nehemiah’s experience too. And it may be yours as well.

Truth #2. Leaders must learn to wait. It takes patience. But if you have a prayer life at all, you have already discovered this. There is a whole lot to be said about the phrase that “good things come to those who wait.” And that is what Nehemiah is doing. For 4 months he waited. And then something happened. Chapter 2:1. Remember he is the cupbearer. So he poured them both a drink and he adds this insight/statement. “I had not been sad in his presence.” But everybody’s got a breaking point…right? And so did Nehemiah. I’m sure he had come to the place where he thought man is this ever going to happen? You know just one of those blue Mondays --- did you know more pastors resign their jobs on Monday than any other day? So the king says to him, why is your face sad even though you’re not sick?

So this is where I just appreciate his honesty. He says, “When the King said that to me, I got scared.” And he had good reason btw. Many times those who worked directly for the king would be killed if they did anything wrong. Look at verses 3-4a. This is the moment he had been waiting/praying for. The door was open. 4b. So, he prayed. It happens. You wait. You pray. You wait. You pray. Then suddenly God kicks the door open. And for a moment you are like in disbelief. Then you’re like, Oh yeah, I prayed for this. ?

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