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Moving Forward In Spite Of Criticism

The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build.
–Nehemiah 2:20

Nehemiah inspired the people of Jerusalem to help him in his vision of rebuilding the wall. But there were some people that started to oppose the project. It does not matter what your goal in life is–somebody is going to oppose it. That leads to the third essential for getting things done, and that is determination. You have to defend your dream. One of the prerequisites for a leader is being able to move forward in spite of criticism. We see this over and over again in the book of Nehemiah. Look at Nehemiah 2:19: “But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked us and despised us and said, ‘What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?’”

The way to tell a leader from a non-leader is by the way he responds to criticism. When a person who is not a leader is criticized, you know what happens? That non-leader is paralyzed. He says, “Wait a minute! We need to have a prayer meeting. We need to have a focus group. We need to decide whether or not this is really what we are supposed to do.” He thinks criticism is a sign that he is outside of God’s will. But a true leader, if he is convinced this is God’s work, learns how to move forward in spite of criticism. He has to have a tender heart, but he also has to have a tough hide. That was Nehemiah. I want you to see how he responded to this criticism. In verse 20, he said, “The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem.” First of all, Nehemiah responded with humility. It is important for us not to get on the defensive when people start to criticize our project. Nehemiah said, “We are simply God’s servants; we are trying to do what God has called us to do.” Second, he said, “We will arise and build.” He was saying, “I am sorry you have a problem with this project, but that does not mean we have to stop.” Finally, he said, “You have no right or portion in Jerusalem anyway. What you say does not matter.” We have to have that same kind of humble but determined response.

You might remember Walter Payton, the Hall of Fame running back for the Chicago Bears. During his career, Payton ran over nine miles with a football. But what is even more remarkable is that every 4.4 yards, he was knocked down by a guy twice his size. Imagine that–running nine miles, and every 4.4 yards you get knocked down by a freight train. But Payton did not stay down. He would get up, he would dust himself off, and he would keep going, game after game, year after year. He kept running forward in spite of the opposition. The test of a leader is what it takes to stop him. What has stopped you from pursuing your dream? Maybe it is fatigue, a lack of financial resources, discouragement, or criticism. Whatever opposition you face, a true leader learns how to move forward. That is what Nehemiah did.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Art Of Getting Things Done” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.

“Walter Payton’s Stats,” Pro Football Hall of Fame,

Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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