721 N. Memorial Drive, Lancaster, OH 43130 // Main Service: Sunday 9 & 11am // Movement Youth Sunday 5:30pm

Am I accountable?

Nehemiah 5:6-12 (NIV)
When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are charging your own people interest!” So I called together a large meeting to deal with them and said: “As far as possible, we have bought back our fellow Jews who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your own people, only for them to be sold back to us!” They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say.
 So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies? I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let us stop charging interest! Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.”
“We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.”

I am not a guy who seeks out confrontation. In fact, I do everything I can to avoid it. Sometimes though, problems arise in our relational circles that must be addressed and confrontation cannot be avoided. Ugggggh. I do not enjoy when this happens, but it inevitably does. Nehemiah lays out a plan for such occasions.

  • Set the right example
Before any of this happened, Nehemiah was already selflessly setting the right example (verse 10). He was not asking anyone to do anything he was unwilling to do himself. Your track record of personal discipline, integrity, and character in the community counts in times such as these.

  • Understand your emotions in response to the issue
We all have emotions, and everyone — including Nehemiah — gets angry sometimes. The key is that while he was angry, Nehemiah did not act impulsively or recklessly based on that anger. Instead, he went on to Step 3.

  • Ponder
Before taking any action, Nehemiah thought through the issue, presumably viewing the problem through the lens of God’s plan, and the broader task at hand of rebuilding a devastated Jerusalem.
  • Take appropriate action
The key word here is appropriate. Using God’s plan for the Jewish people as a reference point, Nehemiah’s confrontation pointed out actions clearly detrimental to the group’s success as a whole. The people responded accordingly to his rebuke and the well-reasoned, God-focused call to action. Seeing a clear problem, confronting those in the wrong and providing a well-thought-out solution to implement may not always work, but it often will. It did for Nehemiah in this case, and ultimately, everyone did their part.

Churches, families, communities, organizations — every gathering of people will have individual problems needing to be addressed for the overall health and success of the group. Even one small problem area hinders the group as a whole. As such, accountable leaders with relational equity within those groups are continually called to set the proper examples, thoughtfully point out problems to those in error, and constructively offer solutions for the betterment of all. Regardless of the specific role in your group, you will, like Nehemiah, inevitably be faced with opportunities to be accountable for others in your circle and confront challenges that arise. Will you be ready to do your part when God’s plan for your life requires you to rise to the occasion?  

Action Step
Outward leadership starts with an inward focus. Identify problems in your life that hinder your relationship with God and others. Identify obstacles that prevent you from being Christ-like. Start (or continue) the life-long work of addressing those obstacles. Replace self-interest with Jesus Christ as the central focus of your life. This difficult work will be recognized in your circle, and will put you in a position to help others address challenges they may be dealing with in their own lives.

Lord, help me to keep my focus firmly fixed upon You, and do the hard work required to put me in a position to play my part within the framework of Your plan. Help me employ the strength for personal discipline, the insight to understand and control my emotions, the patience to ponder, and the courage to take action when called. Amen. 

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