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How Ministry Leaders Plan (Part Two)

Every project you plan has a price tag on it. Before leading your team to start a new project, you need to count the cost—and it’s not just about money.

Last week, I shared five lessons about planning that every leader must consider. Nehemiah modeled these planning steps for us when he returned to Jerusalem to build the city. 

A good plan means you:

  1. Think it through.
  2. Prepare for opportunities.
  3. Establish a goal.
  4. Set a deadline.
  5. Anticipate the problems.

Here’s the sixth lesson: You need to count the cost. This is the budgeting part of the process. You can see this in the story of Nehemiah. After asking the king for permission to rebuild the wall, Nehemiah gave him a shopping list: “May I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” (Nehemiah 2:8 NIV).

Remember, Nehemiah wasn’t a contractor. He was a cupbearer. When the opportunity arose, he rattled off exactly what he needed. He could only do that because he had a plan and had already counted the cost.

Jesus told us about the importance of counting the cost and planning ahead, too. “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:28 NIV).

Pastor, God has wonderful opportunities for you and your ministry, but you must be prepared to take advantage of them when they come. Because Nehemiah planned ahead of time, he knew exactly what to ask the king for.

Your plans will also have a cost. Not only will they cost you time, it is likely they’ll cost you money, too.

Sometimes leaders fail to count the cost because they fear what comes next. The obstacles can certainly look overwhelming. Maybe you know you don’t have the budget to complete a task. Maybe you don’t know where you can find the time.

Nehemiah likely felt that, too. He was taking a substantial risk by asking a pagan king to help him rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.

You’ve probably been there. You know someone who could help you reach a goal, but you let fear get in the way. You assume you know the person’s response. 

Leaders ask for help even when it’s scary. You truly become a leader when you learn how to ask people for help. You can’t do what God puts before you on your own.

Despite the risk, Nehemiah asked the king for help. He could do that because he had prayed and planned for four months. Because Nehemiah had done what he could do, he left the rest in God’s hands.

Proverbs 21:1 says, “In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him” (NIV).

God specializes in changing hearts. 

Once you’ve counted the cost, it’s time to ask for help. The heart of the person or people who will come alongside you is in God’s hands. You don’t need to worry. 

It’s up to God. The Bible tells us that God is able “to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20 NLT).

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