Summary: If we are not mature enough for criticism we are too immature for praise. Adverse criticism from a wise man is more to be desired than the enthusiastic approval of the unwise.
Let Nehemiah Teach You How to Handle Criticism
"Do not mind criticism. If it is untrue, disgregard it. If it is unfair, do not allow it to get under your skin. If it is misinformed, refute it. If it is ignorant smile and be bigger than the critic. If it is justified, learn from it."
"Adversity is never pleasant but sometimes it is possible to learn lessons from it that can be learned in no other way."
Nehemiah teaches us not only how to handle criticism but to use it as a stepping stone to higher heights of usefulness, effectiveness and renown.
1. The Holy Spirit can lead you as He led Nehemiah to weep, pray and fast for the needs of your people. Nehemiah prayed, "Those who survived the exile are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned with fire. When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some day I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven." (Neh. 1:3,4) Ask the Lord to help you to weep, pray and fast for your people allowing the Spirit to do His work first in you and in the hearts of your people before anything else happens.
2. The Holy Spirit can lead you as He led Nehemiah to praise God amidst great difficulties. Nehemiah prayed, "O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands." (Neh. 1:5) Ask the Lord to give you the heart to praise God regardless of whatever problems, pressures or people are on your mind.
3. The Holy Spirit can lead you as He led Nehemiah to confess personal, group and national sins to the Lord seeking His forgiveness and restoration. Nehemiah prayed, "I confess the sins we Israelities, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses." (Neh. 1:6,7) Be willing to confess and forsake all personal, group and national sins before you attempt to lead your people
4. The Holy Spirit can lead you as He led Nehemiah to point people to Biblical imperatives that give them clear direction for where they need to focus their attentions. Nehemiah prayed, "Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to a place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name." (Neh. 1:8,9) Ask the Lord to help you to direct your peoples’ attention to the essential Biblical imperatives that are necessary to obey before God can bless them individually and corporately.
5. The Holy Spirit can lead you as He led Nehemiah to remind God and your people of the Lord’s great promises, perspectives and plans. Nehemiah prayed, "They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of the king." (Neh. 1:10,11) Ask the Lord to help you humbly remind God and your people of Biblical promises, perspectives and plans for their best interests.
6. The Holy Spirit can lead you as He led Nehemiah to analyze and administrate a ministry for the building of God’s kingdom and righteousness. The Lord gave Nehemiah the ability to access the needs, organize his people and administrate the building of the wall that restore security to the people of Israel. Ask the Lord to give you the analytical and administrative abilities to see that your ministries are effectively contributing to the qualitative and quantitative growth of God’s kingdom and righteousness in your communities.
7. The Holy Spirit can lead you as He led Nehemiah to recruit, train, motivate and mobilize the people to work together for the accomplishment of God’s tasks. The Lord led Nehemiah with the wisdom, inspiration and supervisory skill to see a diverse group of people brought together by their common goal of seeing the wall of Jerusalem reconstructed for God’s glory and the peoples’ welfare.
8. The Holy Spirit can lead you as He led Nehemiah to harmonize a wide variety of personalities and perspectives together to synergistically accomplish God’s great purpose. The Lord led Nehemiah to be able to withstand all kinds of criticisms, complaints and misunderstanding between people of different backgrounds. Ask the Lord to help you harmonize the diversity of personalities and perspectives in your group for the synergistic accomplishment of God’s purposes.