When I heard their complaints, I was very angry. After thinking about the situation, I spoke out against these nobles and officials. (Neh. 5:6-7)
Moses learned early in life that it was easier to dispose of an Egyptian taskmaster than it was to settle a grievance between two Hebrew brothers.
The same situation holds true in church and family life. Husbands can settle differences in the workplace, but it’s not an easy thing to settle disputes and issues at home. Pastors have to deal with issues outside the walls of the church, but to bring two brothers together who are at odds with one another is no easy task.
I recall an occasion while teaching fifth grade where two boys were slugging it out in the restroom. When I endeavored to break up the melee they both turned on me. All three of us ended up in the principal’s office.
When Nehemiah heard the complaints of the people he became “very angry” (v. 6). His was not a fit of sinful anger, but an expression of righteous indignation at the way the nobles and officials were extorting illegal gain from their brothers. Nehemiah acted in a way that a true leader should. He called a town meeting to set the record straight.
Moses and the Lord Jesus Christ both expressed this same kind of holy righteous indignation during their ministries. Moses broke the stone tablets containing the law (Exodus 32), and Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers out of righteous indignation for using his Father’s house as a “den of robbers.” (Mt. 21:12-13)
The test of true leadership isn’t that you do what is expedient, political, or safe, but you do what is just and right. After pondering over the situation and examining all the facts, the rightful approach is the one Nehemiah took. He chided the businessmen for causing the community to become a reproach before the enemies of God.
A building program places heavy demands upon leadership and is a test of their faith and patience. While it brings the best in some people, it can often bring out the worst in others.
Nehemiah exercised true leadership by defusing the problem before it got completely out of control.