“And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?”
Nehemiah quickly discovered that people would criticize him and the work he was doing in his role as a leader. One of the notable critics of his day was Sanballat. The depths to which Sanballat went to criticize Nehemiah were very low, and the criticisms he hurled were baseless; however, Nehemiah had to deal with the criticism of this man.
If you do anything for the LORD, you are going to have to manage the criticism that comes your way. Certainly, there are times when we give the critics ammunition by the actions we perform, but most of the time you are going to find that the criticisms hurled at you are baseless and untrue. How you manage criticism will determine what you accomplish for the LORD. Let me share several observations with you from Nehemiah’s experience on how to manage criticism.
First, realize the critic has ulterior motives. The critic is often an unspiritual person who thinks they are a spiritual giant. Most often the critic is a jealous person who doesn’t like that you got the position they thought they deserved. The criticism they throw at you is not so much that they hate you, it is that they are jealous that you got what they thought they deserved.
Second, keep a close eye on the critic that they don’t destroy a weaker brother. In verse 9, Nehemiah set a watch against Sanballat and his allies to be sure they didn’t do them harm. You are going to have closely watch the critic that they don’t destroy new and weaker believers. You will always find that the critic often targets the new believer who doesn’t know better, or the weak believer who has little to no discernment.
Third, go to God in prayer about the critic’s criticisms. Nehemiah knew that the only proper way to handle criticism was to give it to God. He understood that God had the ability to silence the critic in a much better manner that he did. Prayer is your greatest tool in times of criticism. It is in prayer where you tap the resources to bring all criticism to naught. It is in prayer where you give your fears to God. It is in prayer where you gain the discernment on which moves you should make. When someone begins to criticize, your first action should be to pray.
Fourth, never respond to the critic. Nehemiah was wise in not responding to Sanballat and his allies because that is exactly what they wanted him to do. Responding to the critic is what gives their criticism credibility. The simple person will think that there is something to the criticism when you respond to your critics. There are a few times when you must respond to critics, but not responding to the critic is the best action most of the time.
Fifth, keep building your wall. Always remember that the critic is trying to keep you from doing what you are doing because they don’t want you to succeed. Continuing your work as if nothing happened is the best way to silence the critics. The only thing the critic is attempting to do with their criticism is to get you to stop. Continuing on in spite of criticism is the best way to refute the lies of the critic.