#122: Expect Opposition When Attempting to Accomplish Something Great

Have you ever had God give you a big, audacious vision of something He wanted you to accomplish? It was so big you didn’t even know how, apart from Him, you could possibly do what He was asking?

Nehemiah Oppression

I guarantee that if you accept God’s challenge to accomplish a great work for Him, you will be met with opposition. The enemy stands ready to resist God, and will use any number of weapons to thwart your success.

Nehemiah was a Jewish exile who was cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia. God presented Nehemiah with the idea of returning to Jerusalem to coordinate the work of the returned exiles who were attempting to rebuild the city walls.

He spoke to the king who approved the trip to Jerusalem and even paid for the provisions and material needed out of the King’s treasury.

Shortly after arriving in Jerusalem, Nehemiah gathered the leaders together and challenged them to get busy rebuilding the city. As they started the work of rebuilding the city walls and gates they faced both internal and external opposition from those who wanted to see the rebuilding efforts fail.

Nehemiah faced six types of opposition:

1. False Accusations

Powerful outsiders who lived around Judah falsely accused Nehemiah of rebelling against the king. Nehemiah rebuffed their accusation saying that God would give them success, and continued the rebuilding (Nehemiah 2:19-20).

Lesson for Us. The opposers will make false accusations as you begin to do God’s work, but they are the ones with false motives and lying tongues. Our response should be to pray and keep working!

2. Derision

When these powerful outsiders found that their false accusation didn’t stop the work they resorted to mocking the rebuilding efforts, suggesting that the people were too pathetic to do the work themselves and that the wall would fall down at the slightest touch (Nehemiah 4:1-3). Nehemiah’s response was to pray to God and to continue the work.

Lesson for Us. The opposers will mock you, make fun of you, and do anything they can to shake the confidence of the people doing the work in an effort to get them to quit. Our response should be to pray and keep working!

3. Attack

As Nehemiah continued rebuilding the opposition forces came together and plotted to attack Jerusalem to throw the people into a state of confusion so they would stop working. Nehemiah’s response was to pray to God, to encourage the leaders, and to post guards to protect the city (Nehemiah 4:7-14).

Lesson for Us. When other more subtle methods don’t work, the opposers will resort to outright attack. They’ll do anything and everything to create confusion amongst the people doing the work, so that that they will quit. Our response should be to pray, encourage the leadership, and take steps to protect the workforce from the opposers.

4. Set a Trap

As the work neared completion the opposing leaders tried to set up a meeting with Nehemiah, but their intent was to kill him and thus stop the completion of the work. Nehemiah’s response was to pray to God and refuse to meet with them (Nehemiah 6:1-9).

Lesson for Us. The opposers may try to set a trap for you, as an unsuspecting leader, in an effort to discredit you and stop the work. Our response should be to be prepared for traps coming from the enemy, pray to God, and continue the work!

5. Set Another Trap

When the first trap didn’t work they tried to intimidate Nehemiah and trap him into fleeing into the temple out of fear that men were coming to kill him.  Nehemiah’s response was to pray to God and refused to be intimidated by those who threatened him (Nehemiah 6:10-14).

Lesson for Us. Just because the first kind of trap didn’t work doesn’t mean the opposers won’t try again. Our response should be to pray to God relying on His strength and protection, and refuse to be intimidated by threats.

6. Spies in the family

The work of rebuilding the wall was completed, and most of the enemies gave up their opposition. But one man who had family inside Jerusalem was writing letters to family members, and the family members were trying to convince Nehemiah how great this man really was. Nehemiah’s response was to reject their attempts to influence and intimidate him (Nehemiah 6:17-19).

Lesson for Us. Never assume that all the opposers lie outside your organization. There are quite possibly a number of people inside your organization working against you. Our response should be to pray to God for His strength and protection, and keep working towards God’s best!

At some point in any great work, whether it is in a ministry or in a business, there will be those whose desire is to see you fail. They will oppose you with false accusations. They will mock you. They will come at you with direct attacks. When those don’t work they will try to traps and more traps. And when all else fails, they will use spies in your organization in an attempt to poison your work from the inside.

Note that Nehemiah’s response to the oppressors was to pray and to act based on what was needed in that situation!

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What kind of opposition have you experienced in your ministry or in your workplace?


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Category: Skills | Problem Solving


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  • Ron- It’s amazing how the many forms of opposition Nehemiah faced are present in today’s work world. I have faced several of them in our police department. It reminds me of crabs in a steaming pot. When one tries to rise and climb out, the others drag him back in. It’s strange how others sometimes want to see you fail. Even when they know you are trying to accomplish good things. People are complicated and often motivated by the wrong things. Thanks for another thought provoking post.

    • Ron says:

      Nehemiah is one of my favorite leadership character studies of the Old Testament for exactly the reason you mentioned – so much of the opposition he faced, we still face today. For all man’s ‘progress’ some things remain…

  • Mark Ernster says:

    Great post. I learned form a cousin a story about a long-term missionary based overseas. The missionary gave this advice, unpack. What he meant was to make a long term commitment, and expect headwinds. I think of headwinds as synonymous to the word opposition in your post. Nehemiah’s response was great, pray and stay the course, don’t return the attack. That’s a tough one because attacking back seems to be a natural response for a guy like me. Paul really knew what he was talking about when he said, “worry about nothing and pray about everything.” I’m deep in a conflict now, but praying about it a lot, gives me the peace to know that earthly conflicts are in God’s hands, so however it turns out, it’s His plan. It might not be my plan, but it sure is Gods plan, and that plan is always right.

    • Ron says:

      Mark –

      Great point – Nehemiah’s response was to pray and continue the work that was before him – he didn’t attack those who were attacking him. What Nehemiah didn’t do is as much of a lesson for us as what he did do!

      You’ve given me an idea for another blog article!