Building Up or Tearing Down
Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 87:1-7 | Nehemiah 5:14 — 7:6 | 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 | Proverbs 21:8-10
Today’s Scripture Focus: Nehemiah 5:14- 7:60
“I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you? Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.” (Nehemiah 6:3-4 NIV)
Tearing down is simple. Building up is an art. Anyone can criticize; it takes no great skill to see the problems. It takes a real leader not to be distracted by the words that tear down; to keep to the task despite criticism.
The world is filled with critics (so is the church–when will realize that there is no “gift of criticism” listed in scripture?). They are good at seeing the obvious, and get stuck on the problem rather than trying to be part of the solution. Nehemiah had his critics. They kept harassing him with their complaints.
Anyone in a leadership role must learn to deal with criticism. Nehemiah was in the midst of this leadership lesson. I love his response to the criticism: “I am carrying out a great project and I can’t come down.” He refused to be distracted by the criticism of Tobiah and Sanballat.
Tobiah and Sanballat had evidently gone to the school of Telemarketing, and kept pestering Nehemiah again and again. Nehemiah remained devoted to the task and undeterred from his vision of rebuilding the walls. He would not stop building just because a few words were aimed his way to tear him down.
When the criticism became almost unbearable, he took it to the Lord. “But I prayed, ‘now strengthen my hands” (6:10). When the criticism seems too much to bear, take it to the Lord and ask him to fill you with his strength to stick to the task he has called you to do.
Lord, keep me so focused on the project you’ve called me to, that I’m not tempted to fall prey to criticism. Instead, may the voices of encouragement keep me pressing forward in obedience to your gentle whisper. Amen.