If you’re leading people, you will have critics. To clarify, constructive criticism is our friend and we should welcome it. What I am speaking of, is NOT constructive criticism. I am talking about the critic. The one who feels compelled to plays devil’s advocate. By the way, if you are playing the devil’s advocate that should be a telltale sign you’re not as helpful as you think and an indicator of what team you’re on. The critic is never hard to find. They are typically holding a glass that is half empty and their faces look as if they have been sucking on lemons.
One of the finest leaders of the Old Testament is Nehemiah. This guy was hammered by his critics! Chapter after chapter of this book we see the critic doing anything and everything to stop the progress of the intended mission.
The book of Nehemiah is proof that the critic has a plethora of tools to distract and discourage. In chapter 6 verse 17 we see the critic reaching into his tool belt, pulling out pen and paper and dispensing criticism by letter.
The trading of letters between Tobiah and the Jewish nobles is a trading of intelligence. Nehemiah is dealing with betrayal and deception. The intent of the letter is raise questions about his leadership and minimize Nehemiah’s influence. Ultimately, to stop the good work being done.
If you have ever had someone write something about you that was not true you understand the pain this must have caused Nehemiah. Nehemiah has been slandered to thousands of people and it has caused even some of those he leads to question him and the mission. So, what do we do when the critics or those who have wounded us seem to be making progress. First let’s start what not to do.
Five ungodly ways to respond to the those who have wounded you:
1. Fear. You begin to expect the worst in all people. You are now on the lookout for betrayal.
2. Withhold. We refuse to deal with the person that hurt us. We forgot the grace we have received and no longer extend grace.
3. Retaliate. You start using divisive words. You clearly want the person to know that you are hurt, and your intention is now to hurt them back. It’s “hurt people hurt people” syndrome.
4. Doubt. How could God allow this to happen to me.
5. No wrestling. Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.
Five Godly ways to respond to those who have wounded you:
1. Pray. Nehemiah’s journey started back in Chapter 2:4 “So I prayed.”
2. Look to the word of God. Remember when God calls you to a job site, He will ensure you complete it, according to Philippians 1:6.
3. Consider the source. If it’s a brother in Christ, Matthew 18 says “Go to your brother.”
4. Do what Jesus did. When Jesus was betrayed he responded by going to the father. The result was grace. Remember the cross when Jesus said “Forgive them father for they know not what they do.”
5. Make God the object of your affections. Don’t make the person who wounded you the place where your mind dwells. Instead be like Jesus and make God the object of your affections.
When we take a stand for the things of God and place ourselves in His will and are on mission, we should expect to be buffeted from the outside and the inside. When the critics revolt against you and the battle gets hard, remember that when you are weary and the knees are wobbly cry out to God and He will sustain you!
See you at the finish line!