We’ve all seen it: a volunteer gone bad. Somebody steps up to the plate at your church, club, or business, mustering courage and good motives. Everything starts fine… but little by little, that position of power goes to his or her head and, before you know it, an opportunity for service has turned into a platform for posturing. Pretty soon, the volunteer has forgotten his/her first love for service, trading it in for ego and a desire for power.

Not so with Nehemiah. He didn’t let his position of service go to his head. Example: In Nehemiah (the book in the Bible) chapter 5, several poor people cry out about their condition. Nehemiah listened (5:1-6) — which is, after all, a great way to start when we want to help the poor. Next, he “ponders” (vs. 7). My guess is, when it comes to getting involved in humanitarian aid projects and community transformation, we could all do with a bit more pondering before we plunge. Then he became their advocate (vs. 7), arguing and winning favor for their position. But he was not content with words alone. Once he had articulated the cause, he brokered an agreement or contract, of sorts, with those who were causing the trouble (vs. 9-13). He finished what he started — all the way to the end.