Men’s Ministry Meeting #3 ‘How to Deal with Opposition’

6 04 2009
The fight gets dirty. Are you prepared to endure?

The fight gets dirty. Are you prepared to endure?

So here we are at nearly the half way point in the study of one solid character- Nehemiah. I think it’s interesting to note that in the entire book God does not appear once either speaking or acting. I’ve concluded that there is no need for this since if we simply look at the life of Nehemiah we see everything that God wanted us to know about himself in the example of this godly man.

As a recap to the teaching time this last Wens. night here are some notes I took.

In the introduction to the teaching time is was pointed out that men generally tend to get halfway through anything. This is because at the halfway point reality sets in and the obstacles ahead come into sharp focus. Many men get discourage to the point of dropping out of commitment or project. But the old adage applies, ‘the difference between success and failure is often nothing longer than 5 minutes.’ Another wrote ‘success is defined by the obstacles you overcome.’ Remember, getting something started is the easy part, getting it finished is the tough part.

If I can encourage you men- you got it started, you’ve kept up for 4 weeks now but I also know that now participation in this ministry is getting more difficult. The principle of diminishing returns is setting it, what was new and exciting a month ago is now familiar and maybe even contemptible in your mind. All of these things begin to point your attention to the ‘EXIT’ sign. I want to remind you though that sticking this thing out will produce the sort of accomplishment and fruit that you eagerly anticipated on day one. If you cut a green orange off a tree you won’t be able to get the sweet juice you’ve been anticipating!

Therefore resolve yourself in the committment you made to attend this thing all the way through. May Nehemiahs life provide you encouragement to overcome temptations to wander in this purpose

The 4 Obstacles Nehemiah Had to Overcome

  • His critics and their criticism (Chapter 4)
    1. Success breeds critics and criticism (the tall poppy syndrome)
    2. When criticism sets in where will you spend your time..
        1. We see that Nehemiah was a fighter. He didn’t let his critics detract him from the work he as about.
      • As a fighter -or-
      • As as one who flees
    3. Nehemiah exhibited 3 types of self control essential for anyone seeking to stand firm against the critics.
      1. Self Control in Prayer- 4:9
      2. The Self Control not to Retaliate- he could have but he didn’t.
      3. The Self Control to Stay Focused on the Task at Hand.

Remember- success silences your critics

  • His Confrontation with the Opposition- Does Nehemiah have the strength to confront the rich and the powerful?
    1. We learned from Nehemiah that it is typically best to wait for the problem to come to you.
    2. Nehemiah stayed with the facts and kept his personality out of the inevitable conflict.
    3. He walked the talk he was using so he could point to himself as an example to contradict the claims of his opponents.
    4. The goal of Nehemiahs confrontation AND the goal of biblical confrontation is restoration of a broken relationship. The goal is not win/lose but restoration.
  • His Control over Anger
    1. Rather than giving in to violent anger and lashing out at his opponents, Nehemiah checked with himself, performed a ‘gut check’ before responding.
      • We learned that a principle for a person who controls their anger is to learn how to overlook the things you can’t control. This is a natural for men generally speaking and so has to be cultivated as a habit of response.
      • Give the issue to the Lord. Nehemiah turns to God in prayer.
      • Know what righteous anger is, what it’s limits are and what it’s dangers are. We too ofter justify sinful anger as righteous because we fail to understand God’s attribute of anger.

Remember when it comes to anger either you will master it or it will master you.

  • The Test of Success- most men will be corrupted by success not bettered by it.
  1. Nehemiah as a powerful and respected man he could have easily used his position for corrupt purpose like the governors before him but he does not. abuse the rights he has (see Neh 5:13).
  2. Nehemiah stayed on the job. Often with a little success we tend to wander and drift off into time wasting ventures. Nehemiah passed the test of success because he stayed focused on what mattered.
  3. Nehemiah also did not profit from the gain found in his success. He could have cashed the thing in for wealth or spun it for reputation but he did not. In fact he points to his example as the complete opposite example from those who have come before him.

Remember- Most men cannot handle success. So why spent all your time trying to pursue it in this world?

What can you do this week to put into practice these few points? How can you be successful when dealing with opposition? How will these truths impact you?

If I can encourage you, I would tell you that God commands obedience before understanding. That is to say if you don’t understand how to apply these things in your life, start smal and simple, be faithful and the strength you desire will come in the doing. Though you may feel weak now if you will commit to practicing the things you are learning from Nehemiah you will witness true and real spiritual growth. Press on men!

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