Visionary Leadership – Applying Nehemiah’s four-part vision formula


Applying Nehemiah’s four-part vision formula.

Vision is the north star that motivates people to come alongside and go in a new, ambitious direction. It may be at the highest organization-wide level or for a small team within an organization. Vision can bring sweeping organization transformation or focus on improving a small process that impacts just a handful of people.
Many leaders are gifted with vision, an essential leadership attribute. Others must push their comfort zones to create vision.
We have many tremendous examples of visionary leaders in the Bible, one being Nehemiah who led in specific and intentional ways to see God’s vision for the Israelites to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem become reality.
Before unpacking how Nehemiah communicated God’s vision to the Israelites, Nehemiah grounded his leadership foundation in ways that fueled God’s vision to become reality.

Anchored on God’s Calling

Nehemiah’s vision did not appear out of thin air but was anchored on months of seeking what God would have him do to help the Israelites. He spent weeks in prayer, routinely discerning God’s will at the outset and real-time, in the moment, along the way. God was not at the fringe of Nehemiah’s vision, nor did he have a ‘set if and forget it vision’, instead Nehemiah attuned himself to God to lead in ways that caused the vision to become reality.

Humility – A Pre-Requisite of Vision

Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem after seeing many things fall into place. He was granted unexpected permission to go by King Artaxerxes who also provided provision, protection, and safe passage. Upon arriving, it would have been logical (and easier) for Nehemiah to go straight to vision casting, immediately declaring the vision.

That’s not what he did. Instead, he exhibited tremendous humility and restraint to assess the situation by discreetly touring the wall. This time of assessment helped to ensure the vision would align to the reality facing the people in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah was able to overcome the urge to jump to vision casting by taking time to truly understand what the people were facing. This time of assessment didn’t make his vision smaller or less impactful, instead it allowed him to connect the vision to reality and set it up to succeed.

Rested and Renewed

Nehemiah had habits that allowed him to be his best self throughout his leadership journey. Too many leaders have removed margin, run at an incredibly fast pace, and do not allow for healthy patterns of rest and renewal. These bad habits sap their ability to create vision or make them susceptible to pushing their vision through without ensuring it will succeed in their organization’s reality.

Nehemiah shows we must care for ourselves first, take intentional time disconnected from work, and constantly seek God so see any vision reach its transformational potential. If we are intentional with rest and renewal, we will have a much greater chance to see a vision become reality and to have confidence it is truly from God.

Nehemiah’s Vision

Grounded on this sound leadership foundation, Nehemiah used a simple and compelling formula to cast God’s vision in Nehemiah 2:17. Nehemiah begins with unflinching honesty about their reality; “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire.

He then turns to where they are heading; “Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.

He continues by communicating why accomplishing the vision matters, the motivational force behind the vision, “and we will no longer be in disgrace.

Nehemiah’s vision formula captures ‘where we are today’, ‘where we are going’, and ‘why moving in that direction matters.’

It is easy to miss, but Nehemiah’s vision formula doesn’t stop there and continues in verse 18; “I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.” The fourth aspect of his vision formula communicates an often-neglected element of why the vision was possible, why they could achieve it amidst tremendous adversity.

Vision Casting Today

As you lead today and dream about possibilities for the future, your vision can become reality and transform your organization when you focus on seeking God’s calling, stay attuned to him throughout, humbly align your vision with reality, and bring your best self every day.

Once you have that foundation, consider communicating your vision with Nehemiah’s four-part vision formula that focuses on why your vision matters and why your vision is attainable.

About the Author

Chris Jorgensen is the founder of Convergent Strategy. Chris offers strategic guidance in planning, effectiveness, and organization development. He is also the author of The Nehemiah Blueprint, which explores essential leadership attributes.