A Leader’s Sense of Timing

A Leader’s Sense of Timing

I went out at night . . . , inspecting the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were consumed by fire.
–Nehemiah 2:13

In Nehemiah 2, we are learning Nehemiah’s five steps for getting things done. Step number one is investigation. The operative words here are “plan it.” Look at verses 11-13. Nehemiah said, “I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. And I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting into my mind to do for Jerusalem and there was no animal with me except the animal on which I was riding. So I went out at night . . . , inspecting the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were consumed by fire.” Notice what Nehemiah did not do when he arrived in Jerusalem. He did not call everybody together and say, “We are getting ready to launch the greatest building program in the history of Jerusalem!” Instead, he arrived quietly in the city, while everybody else was asleep, and he went out at night to inspect the condition of the walls. That word “inspect” in Hebrew is a medical term that means “to probe a wound.” It pictures a doctor probing the extent of a wound in order to determine what treatment is necessary. That is what Nehemiah did–he carefully inspected to find out what the true situation was. He did not want to prematurely announce to his enemies or even to his own people what he was about to do.

There is a common characteristic that every effective leader and every effective comedian must have, and that is a sense of timing. Just as an effective comedian has to know when to deliver the punchline, an effective leader needs to know when to deliver the announcement of the vision. He has to do it at just the right time. It has been my experience that leaders usually make one of two mistakes when announcing a vision. Some people announce the vision too early, before they have the facts. Their approach is “Ready, fire, aim.” As a result, they end up in failure.

But an equally lethal mistake for leaders is to wait too long to implement change. Their motto is “Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim,” and they can never quite pull the trigger on the project. They are paralyzed by the fear of failure, so they say, “I just need to get more facts. Then I can make a decision.” The truth is, you will never have all of the facts. Do not use that as an excuse not to make change. One writer said, “It’s one thing to get the facts. It’s another thing to get lost in the facts.” There comes a time that a leader has to be willing to pull the trigger to make change. That is what Nehemiah did. He investigated to find out the situation he was dealing with, and then he moved forward.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Art Of Getting Things Done” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.

Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, “Execution: The Discipline Of Getting Things Done” (New York: Crown Business, 2002), 35.

Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.