Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even unto the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor. But the former governors that had been before me were chargeable unto the people, and had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver; yea, even their servants bare rule over the people: but so did not I, because of the fear of God. Yea, also I continued in the work of this wall, neither bought we any land: and all my servants were gathered thither unto the work. Moreover there were at my table an hundred and fifty of the Jews and rulers, beside those that came unto us from among the heathen that are about us. Now that which was prepared for me daily was one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls were prepared for me, and once in ten days store of all sorts of wine: yet for all this required not I the bread of the governor, because the bondage was heavy upon this people. – Nehemiah 5:14-18
Even though Nehemiah and his workers had the right to tax the people of the possessions and money, he chose to not be a burden on them. Rather, he went much to the other extreme. He actually provided for himself, his workers, and many others in Jerusalem while he ruled there. Nehemiah recognized that the people were going through a hard time. So, rather than adding to their burden, he wisely chose to help ease their burden. Nehemiah thought of the welfare of others before himself. Perhaps this is why he was such a successful leader!
Whether we are considering politicians, bosses in the workplace, or leaders in a church, Nehemiah gives an excellent example of how Godly leadership should proceed. Even though a leader may have the right to certain privileges and wealth, that does not mean he has to take them. The best leaders throughout history have been willing to suffer with their people and lead them in humbleness. Leaders should always remember that all power on authority on earth still resides under the authority of Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul had this testimony to the Elders at Ephesus:
I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. – Acts 20:33-35
The best way to lead is to lead like Jesus. He led multitudes of people by serving them the things they needed most – grace and truth.