In two weeks, a new President will take the oath of office. Regardless of your vote, our nation will confer high power and influence on to Barack Obama. Time will tell whether Mr. Obama will be able to wear these shoes or not. But, over time, many aspiring leaders have fallen upon the sword of power, washed away by its seductive promises.
The Old Testament records a great story of a powerful Jew who rose to become the cup bearer for a powerful Persian king...His name was Nehemiah...
In the Fifth century B.C., a royal cup-bearer to the Persian King Artaxerxes, arrived in the derelict and neglected city of Jerusalem. This powerful man had been tasked to rebuild the city’s shattered walls and to revive its civic virtues after 150 years of neglect and the Jewish exile. This man was a God-believing Jew named Nehemiah. He brought with him to Jerusalem a strong military escort, letters of authorization and a declaration of governorship from the most powerful man in the world. With it came the king’s authority to mobilize and command whatever resources he needed professionally or personally.
Yet, humbly he tacked a different course. In an age where the elite and privilege classes enjoyed unparalleled patronage, Nehemiah sought to simply follow God’s direction and restore God’s city. Over and over again, he refused his rightful privileges as governor and led by example the laborious task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, overturning unethical and unjust social practices and assuaging the spiritual thirst of his fellow Jews
Power is to the soul what rust is to metal- it will corrode without continual maintenance. Scripture tells us that the antidote to “power corruption” is humility, an abundant character trait of Nehemiah. Likely, Nehemiah was a humble man before he ascended to his powerful role in the Persian court. He would have been familiar with this famous proverb -“The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor” (Prov. 15:33).
The practice of humility worked for Nehemiah and it still works today.
As a new year dawns, how will you handle temporary power and influence in your world? Do others know you as a humble person who is seeking the betterment of others or do they know you as a self-centered person absorbed in what's best for you?