I’ve taken these questions from the first half or so of the OT book of Nehemiah.
1 – What needs to happen?
For Nehemiah, the broken state of Jerusalem was intolerable. His question to his brother at the start of chapter 1 and his subsequent reaction bear eloquent testimony to the fact the Babylonians had been able to take the Jews out of Jerusalem but they had not been able to take Jerusalem out of the Jews – as Psalm 137 (by the Rivers of Babylon) confirms. That the city of the Great King lay in ruins and its people were in disgrace was too much for Nehemiah to take. It broke him. And in his brokenness he prayed. Something was so wrong that it had to be put right. From his prayers and brokenness a plan emerged.
A visionary leader will be moved by the same kind of thing: what is so wrong that it has to be put right?
2 – Who will help make it happen?
Although God created the world without human help or advice, his normal subsequent pattern of working has been through human agency. Nor would Nehemiah restore the ruined city alone. By the end of chapter 2 he has been able to rally the leaders and others who would do the work of rebuilding.
Chapter 3 is the record of the people who played their part. At one level it’s a list of names of largely unknown people from an ancient city. At another level it’s a record that God took notice of the people who rebuilt the city that was so central to his redemptive plan.
Leaders need to know who will help make things happen.
3 – What obstacles will need to be overcome to make it happen?
Leadership does not happen without opposition and obstacles. Nehemiah found himself surrounded on all sides by local leaders who had no wish to see a resurgent, prosperous Jerusalem. They did what they could to hinder the work.
As well as the direct threats of physical violence, Nehemiah and his colleagues had to persevere against the idea that their work was useless (‘even a fox could knock it over’) and, later, against the sheer weight of work that wore down their strength. 21st century spiritual leaders across the world still have to face the same things.
Leaders need to be ready for the obstacles that will need to be overcome.