Doing the part that you are capable of doing.

No one is indispensable. As Jim Collins said, “Your organization isn’t great if it cannot be great without you.” Making disciples is about equipping people to go themselves and make disciples. 

We hear all the time about not thinking of yourself too highly, of learning to be humble and part of a team.

I agree.

But I also am learning much from Nehemiah about accepting responsibility to take responsibility.

In the story we’re looking at about a great work which cannot be left,  we need to look at the rest of Nehemiah’s statement.

And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”

Nehemiah’s heart was broken about the broken walls of Jerusalem. He risked his career to enlist the king’s help. He traveled 900 miles by horse and foot. He surveyed the damage himself. He rallied the residents to start rebuilding these walls. He planned work strategy and defensive strategy and morale strategy and prayer strategy. He was everywhere during the project.

Though he was not indispensable, he was the heartbeat of this project, this great work.

Being an effective leader means that you care enough about the work you are assigned to do that you believe that you can’t follow rabbit trails. That while you are on duty, you are on duty. That you would never let yourself walk away while you are in the middle of a project where you hold the vision and you care about the outcome and you are passionately concerned about protecting the hands and hearts of the rest of the team.

Being a Nehemiah-style leader means you accept the significance of your leadership. Because you understand that serving means owning up.


These words are part of A Great Work: A Conversation with Nehemiah for People (Who Want to Be) Doing Great Works.  This book is a series of conversations with Nehemiah exploring how he followed God and led people. In these conversations, I explore prayer, opposition, distraction, injustice, and staying faithful to the end of life. I loved writing it. You may enjoy reading it.