The views, thoughts and opinions expressed in Culture Notes belong solely to the author. They are not and do not necessarily reflect the opinion(s) or position(s) of the organization, board of directors and/or any other individual(s) or entity (ies) affiliated or unaffiliated with Christians in Public Service, Inc.
Now it came about that when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious and very angry and mocked the Jews. He spoke in the presence of his brothers and the wealthy men of Samaria and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing?” – Nehemiah 4:1-2
The story is told by Dr. Alan Zimmerman of a judge campaigning for re-election.
The judge was an honorable man, however, his opponent was conducting a vicious, mud-slinging campaign against him.
At a news conference a reporter stood and asked the judge, “Your Honor, would you care to respond to these accusations being leveled against you by your opponent?”
The judge paused, looked over at the reporter and responded, “When I was a boy I had a dog. And every time the moon was bright, shining and full, that old hound dog would howl and bark at that shining moon all night long.”
With that, he handed his coat to his assistant and walked off the stage. His campaign manager was furious! “Judge, say something else! That was a neat story but you haven’t answered your critics!”
The Judge looked stoically at his young assistant and said, “I did. When that old dog kept barking and howling at the moon, that moon just kept right on shining. I don’t intend to say anything back to them, I’m just going to keep on shining.”
You don’t have to be a judge or an elected leader running for re-election to be attacked.
Anytime you step forward to do good, serve others, and accomplish feats others dare not try, you will be attacked, ridiculed and criticized – and from personal experience, I can tell you that not only does it hurt, but hurts deeply.
But as Christ followers if we view ridicule and criticism from the right perspective – God’s perspective, we can, like the judge, keep right on shining.
How? How can you resist the temptation to strike back and sling back the same mud slang at you?
As a Christian, first recognize the source. Satan, by influencing the thoughts and actions of others (even other Christians), will seek to steal, kill or destroy (John 10:10) anything and everything he can - from our relationships to our purpose and work.
The goals of unfair and unwarranted criticisms and attacks are to discourage you, disappoint you, shame you and ultimately to throw you into such despair that you will give up and quit.
As a political leader, Nehemiah’s goal was to garner the support of the people to rebuild the Jerusalem wall.
In those days, cities were protected from enemy invasion by huge walls of wood and stone.
As they were rebuilding the wall, they were publicly ridiculed, mocked, threatened and criticized.
Sanballat, a governor from a nearby region, made sure everyone in town, especially those of influence, heard his and his supporters’ criticisms of Nehemiah and his team.
Nehemiah, like the judge, did not answer them a word. But knowing that God had purposed him for this assignment, Nehemiah didn’t consult any polls, sling back mud or do any political grandstanding.
Instead he tuned it all out, went privately to God and prayed, “Hear, O God, how we are despised! Return their reproach on their own heads and give them up for plunder in a land of captivity. Do not forgive their iniquity and let not their sin be blotted out before You, for they have demoralized the builders” (Nehemiah 4:4-5).
They had messed with God’s people and God’s work!
God answered Nehemiah’s prayer. Nehemiah understood that while the criticisms were too overwhelming and the opposition too great for him to overcome, they were not too great for God.
We can fight criticism with criticism but we will never overcome it. Criticism is a spiritual attack and can only be overcome spiritually through prayer. And when we refuse to engage them, as the judge or give them over to God as Nehemiah; like the judge, we will keep right on shining - and like Nehemiah, keep right on building. Don't ever allow critics to cripple you!
Who are your critics? Instead of criticizing back, like Nehemiah, ask God to deal with them and see what He will do on your behalf. No critic can get the better of you!
Dorothy Burton is an author, conference and keynote speaker for various organizations and governments across the country. She is the author of the new book, Why We Fall: The Power of Self-Awareness.
Interested in having Dorothy speak at your event? Please complete the SPEAKING REQUEST below.
Published on Thursday, November 15, 2018 @ 7:28 AM CDT