Ever been intimidated? It is easy to get intimidated by others at work, in your family, or even at church. When we are intimidated, we act in fear, and that brings out the worst in us.
I recently did a leadership devotion in Nehemiah chapter 6. In that chapter, Nehemiah is threatened multiple times by his enemies. They sent him five letters threatening his position and challenging his important work (he was called by God to build a wall of protection around the city of Jerusalem). They also hired prophets to speak against Nehemiah. Even worse, Nehemiah’s own nobles kept speaking great words of praise about his enemies. If it was me, I would’ve shown these nobles all of the letters from the enemies, filled with threats. I at least would have said something. But Nehemiah didn’t do any of that.
Nehemiah prayed. He prayed frequently and honestly. In fact, some people say that he prayed too honestly, that the book is too centered on him. I don’t agree with his criticism. Nehemiah chose not to share his honest frustration out loud with people. Instead, he prayed to God, and trusted in God to vindicate him and his work.
Nehemiah didn’t fight back; he didn’t even attack them verbally. He just kept building the wall, and the wall was built in just 52 days. That was an incredibly short amount of time! This wall, because of intimidation, had not been built for decades beforehand – which left the city of Jerusalem completely exposed to attack. Nehemiah, because he ignored the intimidation, was able to get this great work done.
Intimidation happens everywhere. Over the years, people have questioned my ministry, character, and leadership. I have found the best way of responding (and I have tried the wrong ways, believe me), is to follow Nehemiah’s example – pray and stay focused on the work of God. People want you to do what they want, and they will even use fear and threats to get their way. If you are doing something wrong, you obviously need to change that! But if you are following Jesus and doing what is right, do not give into the intimidation. Don’t do what people want; do what Jesus has called you to do. Stay focused on the good work God is called you to do, at work, and your family, and even at church.