Ezra, Nehemiah and Leading with Integrity

1 Timothy 3 is the general go-to passage for scripture on leadership, and with good reason. In reading Ezra and Nehemiah recently, however, the concept of godly leadership jumped out at me. A lot.

Firstly, in the person of Ezra;
  •  “…He was a teacher well versed in the law of Moses, which the LORD, the God of Israel had given…the hand of the Lord was on him.” (Ezra 7:6)
  • “For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD…” (Ezra 7:10)
  • “And you Ezra, in accordance with the wisdom of your God, which you possess…” (Ezra 7:25)
  • “…Because the hand of the LORD my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leaders from Israel to go up with me.” (Ezra 7:28)
  • “…Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.”(Ezra 9:15)
  • The last few chapters show Ezra exhorting the people to deal with their sin, with a no-compromises approach and a firm rebuke.
Ezra shows a really challenging model for the leader among God’s people, and I think it can be applied to a New Testament sense as well. A leader should have great knowledge of God’s word, both study AND observance; it’s practical – not just intellectual –  leadership. They are ordained by God, allowing courageous, bold leadership based on God’s wisdom. There is also no delusion of superiority; they are grieved by the sin of the people and passionately pursue change, but humbly recognise their own guilt as well.

Leadership…pic from Bruce Fong 
We can similarly learn from Nehemiah’s example.
  • “…’The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and it’s gates have been burned with fire.’ When I heard these things, I sat down and wept.” (Nehemiah 1:3-4)
  • “I confess the sins we Israelites,including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you.” (Nehemiah 1:6)
  • “I was very much afraid…then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the King…” (Nehemiah 2:4-5)
  • “The god of Heaven will give us success…you have no share in Jerusalem.” (Nehemiah 2:20)
  • “Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall.” (Nehemiah 5:16)
  • Nehemiah 5 shows him exhorting the people, rebuking them and teaching them.
Nehemiah is passionate about God’s kingdom and, like Ezra, recognises his own sin. When doing God’s will, he turns to God rather than himself, which allows him to speak confidently even when he is fearful. He is bold with the truth; he does not water it down, or soften his rebukes. He attributes success to God, and hisut his leadership is very grassroots; he engages actively in what he is telling the people to do.
I am sure that many more examples will follow, as I read beyond Nehemiah 7. Both Ezra and Nehemiah have a significant amount of action in the latter part of Nehemiah.
These conclusions, however, seem pretty well summed up in a little snippet, Nehemiah 7:2.

“I put in charge  of Jerusalem my brother Hannani along with Hannaniah the commander of the citadel, because  he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do.”


A godly leader has integrity, and fears God more than most people do.
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