So after a couple of days of mulling over Nehemiah, watching life happen and comparing it to what we’ve been reading, I’m reminded again, there is nothing new under the sun. The things Nehemiah was confronted with are the same things we see in our daily lives. As I wind up this pondering leadership from Nehemiah with chapters 5 and 6 conflict has hit with full force. Nothing we haven’t seen before. People are hungry, taxes are very high and they have overwhelming debt. It doesn’t take a psychology degree to realize that is going to mean crabby people. They complained about their circumstances and the people causing these conditions, their fellow Jews. The injustice made Nehemiah very angry. (verse 6) But I first noticed he did something we often forget when we see injustice and get angry. He stopped and thought. Hmm, novel idea. Don’t let “the heat of the moment” cause you to move ahead without thinking. After thinking it over, Nehemiah deemed it necessary to confront those who were “lording” over the others. He called a meeting and declared the injustice.
A phrase that was used at the Weekend On the Farm was “leadership does not mean lordship.” Nehemiah was a leader.They called him a governor, but he didn’t take financial advantage of that position. In fact, he used his finances to purchase back some Jews who had been sold into slavery for payment of a family debt! He fed all of his workers without extracting more food and money from the people because of his position. He just used what was fair and what he needed. He did not “lord” his position or authority over them. Why? Because he cared about the people he was leading. As leaders it’s not about focusing on our own “rights” it about focusing on our “responsibilities.” There is a huge difference. When we do it right, I believe it’s because we care about what we are doing and who we are doing it for more than ourselves.
Leadership happens when we realize that it’s about relationships with people. It’s about doing what the Lord asks us to do, what He created us for – being a part of HIS story. Which leads me to the last challenging question. Where are you leading those around you? Are you leading towards the cross, a relationship with Jesus or are you driving them away? Wow, that’s a sobering question.