The only way to avoid criticism is to say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing. When you attempt anything of value or significance, people are going to talk about you. Nehemiah’s enemies tried to stop him from rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem by using gossip and innuendo: “It is reported among the nations—and Geshem says it is true…Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’” (vv. 6-7 NIV). Notice, no source was given of the accusations against Nehemiah. “It is reported.” Always be prepared when someone comes to you and says something like this: “I heard…” or “Somebody said…” or “The word on the street is….” Never receive a criticism from someone who is bringing it on behalf of someone else, someone they won’t even name, someone who won’t say it to your face. Not even slander could keep Nehemiah from the work he was doing. Note how he responded: “I sent him this reply: ‘Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head’” (v. 8 NIV). In other words, “I don’t care what you think, or say, or like. I’m going to keep building this wall until the job is done.” And that must be your attitude too. Most of the time, your friends don’t need an explanation, and your enemies wouldn’t believe one if you gave it. So stay focused and get the job done.