How to deal with critics, opposers and unbelievers.
© 2021 Dr. Samaria M Colbert
I was having a conversation with a young lady the other day. She was discouraged because she has a goal that she longs for and is working towards. Yet another person is constantly telling her that she can’t do it. I told her that someone’s opinion of her doesn’t matter, and the best revenge is success.
That led me to think about a time I was in her shoes. I remember the pain of someone telling me what I couldn’t do and how hurt I was. There are people in life who live their life seeing limitations and because they are limited, they think you should be limited to.
I’ll tell you about a moment in my story. Over twenty years ago, I was a senior in college and was in the process of applying to graduate school. As a part of my entrance criteria I had to get letters of recommendation from my professors. I decided to ask my professor we will call her Dr. H for a letter of recommendation. I also had experienced a discouraging comment from my internship supervisor. My internship supervisor told me I was too quiet, and my personality would not fit into the human services field. I brought this to my professor’s attention because she was the head over the internship department. Before I could ask her about my letter of recommendation, she explained to me that she also thought my quiet and calm personality was not a good fit to be in the human services field. She basically implied I was too quiet and needed to consider another career path. Not the most helpful thing to tell someone who is applying to graduate school and in her senior year. That devastated me. I thought my internship supervisor was out of line and I went to my professor for intervention. Imagine the pain as I went home and cried. What was so wrong with being quiet or discerning? The point is a critic can devastate your soul and cause you to question what God has called you to. Don’t be surprised if critics come in packs.
By the way I did get accepted into graduate school. I was so hurt and afraid of rejection I didn’t ask any of my other professors for letters of recommendation because I didn’t want to hear another put down. That was over 20 years ago, I have been in the same field they told me I wasn’t cut out for. Ironically it is my calm personality and quiet nature that has been one of the biggest assets in my career. I am not a pushover and have never been by any means. My authentic self has been employed in inpatient hospitals, crisis centers, community mental health centers and now my own private practice. My clients have always complimented me on how calm and soothing my personality is. I actively listen to their hurts and try to respond as best I can. What I have learned is that before people want advice, they want to be heard. What someone else thought I wasn’t fit for, ended up being the very thing I get complimented about regularly.
The point is on your journey to success and fulfilling your dream will come across naysayers, critics, and unbelievers. They won’t believe in you or your dream. You have a responsibility to push forward. I am telling you like I told that young lady the other day. Someone will always have an opinion about you based upon who they think you are. It’s not what they say about you that matters it’s what you know about you that matters most.
Today we will discuss how to deal with naysayers, critics, opposers and unbelievers.
Naysayers are persons who criticize, object, or opposes something. Don’t get me wrong I am not against positive critique that is about teaching or training someone. I am against the critic that is baseless and meant to discourage you from pursuing your passion. A critic is a person who expresses an unfavorable opinion. A unbeliever is someone without faith or driven by fear. They don’t believe in your dreams and feel as though you shouldn’t believe in your dreams either.
To give you a Biblical perspective we are going to review the journey of Nehemiah. I am not going to post the entire text. I will reference the scripture and I encourage you to review it on your own.
The back story is Nehemiah has decided to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and was given the full support and permission by the king to take a leave of absence to complete the work. I want you to put yourself in the life of Nehemiah to see parallels to your life. Just like Nehemiah you have a dream, a vision, a business, something you are building.
Like Nehemiah you will come across critics, opposers and unbelievers. Nehemiah’s haters came in the form of Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem. These are individuals who opposed Nehemiah’s work, even though it has nothing to do with them. Remember your critics are in the business of minding your business instead of their own. They are really motivated by the spirit of jealousy and envy.
Reference Nehemiah 2:19
The first thing your critics, opposers and unbelievers do is to scoff and be contemptuous. Scoff means to openly express a feeling of deep hatred and disapproval. To be contemptuous means to have a feeling of deep hatred, disapproval. This is exactly what Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem did. They are stuck and secretly despise that you are moving forward. Everyone is not going to support your dream, you have a choice to stay stuck with them or keep moving forward. I suggest you keep moving forward.
The next thing that Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem did was bring false accusations. In Nehemiah’s case they accused him of doing something unethical and illegal. They suggested that he had stolen and that he had not gotten permission from the king to move forward when in fact he did. This is when your critics despise your moving forward, so they use accusations to distract your efforts. Scripture tells us that Nehemiah’s enemies became very angry when they learned that he was moving onward even with their best efforts to stop him. They represent the people who are angry that you keep being persistent despite their lies, rumors and deceit.
Like Nehemiah you must keep moving forward.
Reference Nehemiah 4:3
Nehemiah’s haters began to minimize his efforts. They said, “Your wall is going to fall, and collapse if a fox walks on it.” It implies that the wall would not be strong enough and they were not skilled enough to be able to handle such a massive project. Have you ever had anyone tell you or imply that your vision is too great for you? You’re not smart enough, your personality doesn’t fit the task ahead. Such was Nehemiah’s case. They are like Nehemiah’s haters they want to discourage you; they want to get in your head and tell you what you can’t accomplish. Like Nehemiah you know where this is going. Keep moving forward.
It states that Nehemiah prayed, and he kept moving forward. Never allow anyone to get in your head and cause you to give up. He persisted.
Ironically Nehemiah’s haters were very persistent themselves, they gathered more enemies to come against him. Ironically these were enemies who previously didn’t like each other. Yet they are unifying to come against Nehemiah’s and the people of Israel’s efforts. Nehemiah is quoted saying, “But we prayed and guarded ourselves and around the city.” And you know the drill they kept moving forward.
You must guard your heart and do the same. When the people working on the wall with him learned about the threats against them, they started being discouraged and afraid. He said, “Don’t be afraid, remember the Lord.” Nehemiah never stopped. Remember what God said in Romans 8:31
Romans 8:31 New King James Version
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Nehemiah understood that it wasn’t in his or the people of Israel’s strength alone that they were building, it was God who was doing the work through them and would also fight for them.
And his enemies stilled persisted in chapter six they kept plotting. In verse 9 Nehemiah’s said, “they are trying to intimidate us, discourage us and get us to stop the work, but we continued with greater determination.” And that is just what they did. Their enemies continued. They presented them with false documents, false prophets, and lies. Yet Nehemiah persisted and eventually they finished what they started.
The point is Nehemiah’s persistence as a leader despite great opposition is a great example for us today. Maybe your haters won’t be as persistent as Nehemiah’s, however some of you will have individuals who are more persistent. Look at his example to gain strength.
You will always have people who are driven by their own selfish motives, jealousy, envy and greed. Like Nehemiah don’t allow discouragement to set in and cause you to give up.
Galatians 6:9 New King James Version9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
When God is for you, even with their best efforts they won’t be able to stop you. Man’s opinion doesn’t stop God. God will finish what he started in you.
Philippians 1:6 New King James Version6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
The New Living Translation reads, “he will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
My only advice to you is let Nehemiah’s testimony be your lifeline. You want your testimony to be, despite all the obstacles she or he faced, they kept going.
You will get there, it won’t be easy, it will be worth it. Don’t give up.
© 2021 Dr. Samaria M Colbert