Don’t give up (2)
Another thing which can cause us to give up on our God-given calling is criticism. When other people criticise us, it can cause us to doubt ourselves, doubt our calling, and doubt God. Criticism can knock us down and lower our confidence. But it had the opposite effect for Nehemiah. He felt called to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (you can read about this in Nehemiah 1), but he came up against a lot of opposition. He said: ‘I knew they were scheming to hurt me so I sent messengers back with this: “I’m doing a great work; I can’t come down.”’ Nehemiah refused to let the threats of others deter him from completing the wall. And in verse 9, he said: ‘They were trying to intimidate us into quitting. They thought, “They’ll give up; they’ll never finish it.” I prayed, “Give me strength”’ (MSG). He took their criticism, saw it for what it was, and took it to God. He asked God for the strength he needed to ignore the words of others and remain focused on his calling. When we encounter criticism, we need to do the same. Firstly, we need to see it for what it is. Sometimes people are criticising us about an issue that really does need to be changed. We need to reflect on whether there’s any truth in the criticism. Other times people might be trying to make us give up, perhaps because they’re jealous or trying to cover up the fact that they’re not following their calling. Then we need to give it to God. We can ask Him to help us process it, and to give us the strength we need to keep going despite their words. People’s criticism can actually move us forward rather than knock us back – we just have to keep our eyes fixed on the One who has called us.
Next time someone criticises you, reflect on whether there is any truth in it and then ask God to help you move forward.
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