Keeping goal in focus can overcome negative criticisms

Sunday, May 1, 2011

To this day I have not met anyone who enjoys criticism. Positive criticism from friends can be helpful, but negative criticism is awful. Criticism cuts even deeper when it is aimed toward something that you are deeply and personally invested.

In the Old Testament, Nehemiah, by God's good hand, rallied the people of Jerusalem together to begin to rebuild the walls and the gates of the city.

Dividing the people along the wall, many working on the wall directly in front of their homes, they picked up the charred and knocked over stones to rebuild. These people were deeply, passionately and personally invested in this project. But not everyone was happy about it.

Two men who were supposed leaders of the people, in a position in which they were to look out for their best did not partake in the project but became sharp critics of the work. Before one stone was set they mocked the people's intelligence, their abilities and their motives.

Now that the people were doing the work and having success, the opposition poured it on. One cried out that their work was so shabby that if a fox walked on the wall, it would knock it down.

We will all face opposition, especially if you are doing what God has called you to.

There will be people in your lives who, for sometimes unknown reasons, will be opposed to you. They will offer nothing but sharp criticism that makes them look bigger and better in attempts to make you look dimmer and dumber.

Nehemiah led the people to respond in an interesting way.

They didn't respond to the criticism. They didn't try to justify their mission. They didn't even set out to prove their critics wrong by putting a fox on the wall. They focused on their mission.

This summer when a dad is trying to teach his son how to hit a baseball what will he say before he pitches the ball? "Keep your eye on the ball." This one phrase reminds the boy that where your attention is focused you move that way.

When we focus on the criticism our energy is poured into addressing that and not on what God has place in our hearts to do for his kingdom and glory. The critics win and the kingdom loses.

When facing opposition the best resolve is to be even more determined.

Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer. Read more from him at

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