Example of an Example

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. 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. I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. Moreover, there were at my table 150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 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. Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.” Nehemiah 5:14-19

All leaders have certain privileges, and many who appreciate their responsibilities would not refute their right to exercise or enjoy them. But Nehemiah refused what he could have accessed. After correcting the practice of the nobles’ and officials’ exacting usury from their Jewish brothers, urging them to walk in the fear of God and to guard His reputation before foreigners, he himself kept on as an exemplary servant-leader. He chose not to dine luxuriously nor impose the tax burden on his people that would require, as had his predecessors. He would not lord it over the people, as even the servants of previous governors had done. He got dirty, working alongside his people, and welcomed them to his table, sharing delicious but not over-the-top bounty with everyone. The more we read of Nehemiah, we see this is simply who he is: a God-centered official whose aim it is to honor Him, and to serve those entrusted to him as he leads them to do the next right thing. God appointed, so God would lead and provide, and it was up to Him to protect and reward. (Nehemiah 5:7-9)


When I am in a position of leading others, or have access to privilege and abundance, are my decisions self-serving, fueled by narrow self-consciousness or a pride in my rights, or by humble fear of the God Who placed me there, and large love for those for whom I am responsible? How willing am I to deny myself pleasures or ease that could be mine, for the sake of others and a greater cause? Whether some criticize, or question, or need the money for daily bread that I would have spent on my fancy, if my heart is fixed on the Lord of all, I will consider in every situation what He would have me do. Jesus, equal with God and through Whom all was made, came not to be served but to serve, and He calls me to do the same. (Mark 10:45; John 1:1-3; Philippians 2:5-7)

Father, You have assigned me my portion and my cup, and it overflows. May I always set You before me, await Your counsel, and so live and lead that all are drawn to share in Your bounty. (Psalm 16:5,7-8)


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