Anyone can blame somebody else for what’s wrong. It takes a leader to accept responsibility for the misdeeds of the group.
Nehemiah was a Jew, still living in exile during the reign of the Persian king Artaxerxes around 444 b.c., even though the Jews had been freely permitted to return to the land of Israel 92 years earlier. Nehemiah had demonstrated enough ability to have been promoted to a position of high trust in the royal court, that of cupbearer to the king. His heart was stirred by a sad report from Jerusalem about the sluggish progress in rebuilding the city and especially its walls. Without those walls, the city was vulnerable to every band of raiders that came through.
Nehemiah had the soul of a true leader. As he formed his plans to jump-start the rebuilding of Jerusalem, he came to the Lord in prayer and showed that he had learned the lesson of the reason for Israel’s painful exile: “We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses” (Nehemiah 1:7). Nehemiah did not blame his grandparents’ generation. He used the pronoun we and meant it. He knew he was a sinner too. He approached the Lord in a posture of humility, asking for mercy, not demanding what he thought Israel had a right to.
When a group of people looks to you as its leader, accept the authority that comes with it, but take the responsibility too.