Monday, November 8, 2021

Exemplary Leadership Qualities of Nehemiah In the Old Testament


Nehemiah 5:14-19

Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor. 15 The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God. 16 I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were at my table 150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Now what was prepared at my expense for each day was one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people. 19 Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.


Thought for the Day

What sort of leaders do we want? So often when an individual reaches a position of leadership in politics, business, and alas, in church life, there is a tendency for it to go to their head in some way. Some become bullies, others narcissists, others still feather their own nest, and for many their pride takes on a flavor that leaves a very nasty taste in everyone else’s mouth. Reaching the top of the tree can turn men and women with the highest values and most selfless motives when they set out, into a parody of what they used to be. Not so with Nehemiah. There are no other named political leaders who are privileged to be authors of one or another part of Scripture – but Nehemiah is, and this short passage describes the principles that shaped his twelve years of governorship. There was no freeloading in his administration, and he probably left office a much poorer man. The reason for this was that he was concerned for the wellbeing of the people as they were seeking to establish a firm foothold for the Jews back in the Promised Land. Not only that, but he and his men took off their shirts, rolled up their sleeves, and worked alongside Jews from every background rebuilding the wall that would guarantee the safety of Jerusalem and the LORD’s Temple. Now there is no reason why someone in leadership should impoverish themselves when they take on their responsibilities, but a lot of the ways they might enrich themselves might be highly questionable. What was behind Nehemiah’s approach to leadership? He was a man who knew the Hebrew Bible, and no doubt he had meditated, prayed over, and pondered upon the words of the prophet Micah written three centuries earlier:

He has told you, O man or woman, what is good;

    and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

    and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

We do well to measure ourselves as well as those who lead us in the nation, the state, our business life and religious life against this standard.

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