“It is well with those who deal generously and lend, who conduct their affairs with justice.” (Psalm 112:5).

Money matters, and the careful and strategic use of money is a necessary (though often neglected) ingredient for effective leadership. Money matters to Jesus, and he talks a lot about the importance of using money wisely and generously. Money matters to St. Paul, and he encourages the Corinthians to “excel in generosity” to help those in need (2 Corinthians 8:7). Money matters to Nehemiah, and he pauses a major construction project to set “money matters” right.

In Nehemiah chapter 5, the work on the wall grinds to a halt so that Nehemiah can address the needs of the poor. Famine, heavy taxes, and high interest rates were affecting the most vulnerable members of Israeli society. Upon learning about the plight of those in need, Nehemiah seethes with anger, because the oppressors are fellow Israelites. The construction project grinds to a halt because the integrity of a wall is only as strong as the integrity of the community who builds it. Nehemiah is a great leader and knows that building a “beloved community” is more important than building a wall.

As the leader of God’s people, Nehemiah develops a plan to ease the financial burden of the poor, and in the process models generosity and community responsibility. He demands that the rich stop charging interest on loans made to the poor. He demands that the enslavement of fellow Israelis cease and desist. And he leads by example. Nehemiah works side by side with the people, chooses not to purchase any land, and refuses to accept the Governor’s food allowance.

When it comes to money matters in an organization or congregation, leaders set the tone. A leader who is anxious and worried over money matters will lead an organization that is anxious and worried over money matters. Anxiety produces anxiety. A leader who is generous when it comes to money matters will lead a congregation that is generous with money matters. Generosity breeds generosity. As leaders, we get to set the tone. When it comes to money matters what tone are you setting?