“The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God.”
– Nehemiah 5:15
The Old Testament character Nehemiah represents the best of what its means to be a public servant. After being appointed Governor of the region of Judea by the Persian King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah set out to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He had all authority over the inhabitants of the region. He could have exacted taxes, built up his own residence with public labor, and filled his storehouses with the best of the produce yet he did not. Nehemiah sacrificed his privilege to take care of the needs of the people first. Why did he do this? Well, the last part of this verse makes it abundantly clear, “…because of the fear of God.”
As I sit here writing this post I am listening to a hearing of the North Carolina State Board of Elections. They are investigating possible violations of campaign finance law by former Governor Mike Easley and the Democrat Party. Governor Easley is reported to have receive illegal perks and kickbacks such as home repairs, automobiles, and real estate deals. He is also accused of circumventing campaign finance laws to receive illegal contributions. Governor Easley may or may not be guilty of these charges. The hearings and any subsequent court actions will determine that. What is unquestioned is that many elected officials no longer view their positions as a means of service but a means of enrichment.
Governor Easley could have avoided these hearings had he taken the mindset of Nehemiah. Fearing the voters or the media is not enough. We need politicians that fear the judgment of a righteous and Holy God. I wonder how quickly the federal and state government would shrink if before introducing their bills or casting their votes our elected officials would pause to remember that one day they will have to stand before God and account for their decisions. This is accountability that even the vote cant match.