Effective Leaders Work – rather than wait or whine.


An effective leader doesn’t wait for someone else to “step up,” nor does an effective leader whine about those that are implementing godly plans.  Instead, an effective leader is sensitive to Spirit-inspired vision, prayerfully makes strategic plans and works for success.

The book of Nehemiah demonstrates how God’s people have these three options in the midst of a great opportunity – and which option produces the most effective leaders.

  • Workers. When God is preparing to do a great work, He often surfaces a man that He will use for the task – a person of vision, prayer, and planning.  Workers are well-positioned to be used of God.
  • Waiters. Waiters stand on the sidelines, sometimes for years.  They wonder about the inactivity of God.  It’s easy for a Waiter to point out a void that someone else should fill.
  • Whiners. Whiners, on the other hand, always see the negative in a godly project.  They might mean well, yet they spread discouragement.  Whiners are particularly skilled at pulling down those with fragile dedication and passion.

Here’s how these different “leadership styles” emerged in Nehemiah’s story.  God’s hand of judgment fell on the Israelites because of their sin.  Babylon overthrew the Southern Kingdom in 586 BC, destroying the city of Jerusalem and its walls, and forcing the Jewish people into captivity.

But after power of Babylon was broken by its enemies in 539 BC, many Jews returned to their homeland  … the first group in 586 BC led by Zerubbabel (Ezra 1:1-2:2) and a second group in 458 BC, led by Ezra (Ezra 7:1-10).    Yet in 444 BC – 14 years after the second group and more than 90 years after the first group – the walls of Jerusalem still remained in ruins.  The Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem played the role of Waiters!

God grabbed Nehemiah’s heart by painting a picture in his mind of broken walls around Jerusalem.  “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:4)   He longed for the glory of God to be restored in the great city. He’d captured a vision.

Nehemiah brought his burden before the Lord, fasting and praying for many days. God guided him to develop a plan.  After months in the making and with the go-ahead from the king, Nehemiah finally put the multi-step strategic plan into action.

Nehemiah was a Worker – a person with a heart for God, a vision for His glory and a determination to implement God’s plan.  Yet mobilizing the Jews had its challenges.  The workers were hungry, tired, lonely and under attack.  Discouragement and criticism set in, and soon Nehemiah recognized that he had dozens of Whiners.  He rallied them around their cause, motivating the Waiters and pointing the Whiners to God.  In just 52 days, the wall was finished!

Nehemiah was an effective leader … a Worker amidst Waiters and Whiners.  You can be, too.

Questions 4 Impact

  1. Is there an opportunity on the horizon that has captured your heart?
  2. Have you dedicated yourself to a season of prayer to ascertain the heart of God on the matter?
  3. Have you developed a systematic plan of action?
  4. Have you mustered the courage to share your plan with your leader?
  5. Are you ready to mobilize those on the sidelines with inspirational leadership?
  6. Can you endure and overcome resistance?

About Gary Coiro

Nonprofit & Church Leader Nonprofit Leader and Consultant since 2004, following 15 years as a pastor. Competencies include board development, fundraising, staff development and management, strategic planning, church work, Bible teaching, and capital campaigns. Currently consulting and serving on the Church Ministries Management Team for a large multi-cultural evangelical church.
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One Response to Effective Leaders Work – rather than wait or whine.

  1. Woodrow Kroll draws on Nehemiahs leadership experience to show us that an effective leader is one who honors God and accomplishes the mission He gives. Nehemiah also teaches us about facing many forms of opposition and staying on task in Gods plan. Bonus Study Included with the CD series is a companion study to designed to enhance each lesson in Nehemiah.

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