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A Little Old Fox Could Knock Down That Wall

confident faith healthy thinking

How do you handle criticism?

Nehemiah was called of God to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem and one thing he faced continually was criticism.

You might not be repairing a wall, but you can relate to being criticized and then feeling terrible. Criticism hits you hard emotionally and is painful, and the bummer is that it stays with you longer than praise.

Guess what? Criticism is part of the leadership package. In fact, it is the price of being a leader.

 Criticism is the price of being a leader.

Attempting to Stop the Work of God

Nehemiah’s critics used mocking and taunting to discourage him, attempting to stop the construction of the wall.

  • Ha! What do you think you are doing? Nehemiah 2:19
  • Do you really think you can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices? Nehemiah 4:2
  • They’ll give up; they’ll never finish it. Nehemiah 6:9
  • What do they think they are building? Why, if a fox climbed that wall, it would fall to pieces under his weight. Nehemiah 4:3

Response to Criticism 

Here are 3 things you can learn from Nehemiah’s response to criticism:

1. Reaffirm God’s Work

I replied, “The God of heaven will help us succeed. We, his servants, will start rebuilding this wall. But you have no share, legal right, or historic claim in Jerusalem. Nehemiah 2:20

Nehemiah knew that he and the people of Jerusalem were doing God’s work. He refused to listen to any critics opposed to what he knew was God’s call and direction for his life.

Just for you:

If you are a new leader, don’t be surprised or unprepared for the amount of criticism you will face. You are enthusiastic and optimistic but realize not everyone is as committed or as excited about your mission as you are. This will be a crucial moment for you as you reaffirm God’s commission to you.

2. Take Control of the Situation

We kept at it, repairing and rebuilding the wall. The whole wall was soon joined together and halfway to its intended height because the people had a heart for the work. Nehemiah 4:6 

Amid the ridicule, criticism, and threats from their enemies, Nehemiah led the people by taking control of the situation. They did not succumb by giving in or feeling helpless. They disarmed all attacks from their enemies by carrying a sword in one hand and a tool in the other. 

Just for you:

Learn to diffuse tense situations by not responding immediately but taking a few minutes to calm yourself and evaluate the heart of the words being spoken to you.

There is work to be done on one hand, and prayers shot heavenward on the other hand. 

3. Toughen up!

They were trying to intimidate us into quitting. They thought, “they’ll give up; they’ll never finish it.” I prayed, “Give me strength.” Nehemiah 6:9

Nehemiah continued the work with even greater determination.

The best advice I ever received as a young immature pastor was, toughen up! I could not believe that someone could say critical things about the work I was doing. A seasoned pastor told me to get some tougher skin on because this was the life of a leader. 

Just for you:

Do not allow the criticism of one overwhelm you so you cannot receive the strength of a hundred others who are in agreement with what you are doing.


1. If it is constructive criticism you are receiving, take time to bring the words before the Lord and ask for wisdom.

Accepting constructive criticism opens your heart to the path of life, making you right at home among the wise. Refusing constructive criticism shows you have no interest in improving your life, for revelation-insight only comes as you accept correction and the wisdom that it brings. Proverbs 15:31-32 TPT

"Every leader must develop the ability to measure the value or worth of criticism. She has to determine the source and the motive, and listen with discernment. Sometimes the best course of action is to graciously accept the criticism and learn from it. Other times, it must be strongly resisted." Chuck Swindoll

2. If your critics are not listening to God’s voice, but speaking from an impure heart or competition, use Nehemiah’s technique:

I shot back, “The God-of-Heaven will make sure we succeed. We’re his servants and we’re going to work, rebuilding. You can stick to your own business. You get no say in this—Jerusalem’s none of your business! Nehemiah 2:20 MSG

3. Nehemiah’s critics taunted him with a little old fox could knock down that wall. (Nehemiah 4:3)

Keep in mind – the wall was halfway finished and they were on the outside trying to shout over the top!


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