But the earlier governors – those preceding me – placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God, I did not act like that. Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we did not acquire any land.
Nehemiah rebuked the nobles for exacting usury from their Jewish brothers, and he implemented a plan of correction. He then told the nobles how he had set an example for them of how to treat their Jewish brothers fairly. He told them that it was out of reverence for God that he did not take advantage of his Jewish brethren as they had done. Once again, Nehemiah displays godly leadership as he devotes himself to the work alongside the Jews and contributes to the welfare of the people monetarily. As Christian leaders, God calls us to set an example in thought, word, and deed as we do His work. Nehemiah worked on the wall and he supplied food for the officials and the Jews: I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people. (5:18b) The governors before Nehemiah had placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Nehemiah’s success in motivating the people was due to his humility and concern for the people. Christian leaders have a responsibility to lead by example. Leadership is defined as “influence.”
Recently a young woman approached me and shared with me that her mother had rejected her and that she had not seen her in years. She subsequently has had a problem with women in authority. One day she saw me talking in the church with some other women and decided that I was just like other women in authority who would reject her. She had come to the class that I teach and was looking for her group. I left the room and the Lord nudged me to turn back and ask her if she needed any help in finding her group. The young woman told me later that in that moment she realized someone cared. I learned something important – we never know who is watching us. I had no idea that young woman had pressing needs and that a simple kind gesture from me would have such an impact on her.
Consider your sphere of influence and the affect you have on others. Ask the Lord to help you be like Nehemiah who led by example and did not consider his leadership position to be a place of honor, but a place of service.
Heavenly Father, Help me to be a godly leader who serves rather than expects to be served, who looks out for the needs of others rather than seeking to have my own needs met. In Jesus’ name, Amen