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 was a leader who cut his own course. Earlier leaders in Jerusalem lorded their power over the people with heavy burdens of taxation. Their greed was one reason the discouraged Israelites lived in disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem was not the only thing in shambles. The people lived with worn-out bodies and broken spirits.
However, Nehemiah was a different kind of leader. He refused to take advantage of the people. He and his men engaged in the work on the wall. He didn’t use his power to acquire personal wealth. In fact, each day “a hundred and fifty Jews and officials ate at his table” (Nehemiah 5:17).
Why did Nehemiah lead in such a way? Look at today’s passage. Nehemiah said that his behavior was “out of reverence” for God. What a powerful statement! Nehemiah was not about to take advantage of the position that God had given him. He led differently because of his love, devotion, and admiration for the holy God. Leading out of reverence for God . . . now that puts leadership in a truly biblical perspective.
Father, please help us all to live and lead out of reverence for You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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