No matter what you do in life – if you are successful certain people will hate you. In fact, the more you lead people into life, into wisdom, the more your ministry and life sets captives free the more people will hate you and the more obvious their hate will be.
David is starting to have a bit of confidence that in God he can defeat Goliath, and his brother finds out and instantly becomes a hater:
28 And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle. 29 And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?30 And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner. (1 Samuel 17.28-30, KJV)
David was persecuted by his own family – and that is sadly not unusual for people who are leaders in the world, let alone the body of Christ. Eliab, clearly intimidated by David’s faith, starts to rip him apart just when he was about to face Goliath.
Listen – there are some people who will never, ever have any confidence in you and your ability to succeed. They want to tear you apart, criticize you, attack you, make you feel small and put you down.
And how do we handle these people? There are two ditches we can fall into, and I have fallen into both in my lifetime:
- We can fall into the ditch of letting them get under our skin, we start to see ourselves through their eyes rather than God’s eyes, and we start to see ourselves as arrogant, as a failure, as this and that. Then we just give up on our dreams.
- Or, we can fall into the ditch of seeing these people as our enemy, and taking the stone meant for Goliath and sinking it into their heads. No – these people are our family, our church and we do not attack our own, no matter how negative and faithless and disrespectful they are to us.
So what is the correct path, avoiding these ditches – it can be seen in David’s perfect reaction to Eliab – “he turned from him”. The only way to deal with haters is to walk on. It’s that simple. It is a skill, and it is not easy, but all of us need to learn to walk on from the people who hate us.
There are many people who have many evil thoughts about me. The more our ministry grows, the more people there are who have these thoughts. There are people who in their houses will gladly gossip and slander me. They hate me in their hearts, even though on the outside they can profess to love me and love Tree of Life. Now these people are the minority, but I am letting you they exist, because when your haters come I want you to know you are in good company.
You need to have radar for the hypocritical haters – and walk away. Learn to fellowship with the people who believe in you, who are on your side, and who flow with you. Don’t fight to fellowship with people who don’t care about you and your dreams.
Some churches have struggled because they don’t respect businessmen, other churches have struggled because they don’t respect evangelists or prophets, or whatever. Attend a church where you can be in ministry and not despised! Some churches will never respect poor people, and don’t welcome them.
Some churches in London will never promote people from a certain culture, background, tribe or whatever. I love our church, we have over thirty nationalities every weekend, and our leadership team is remarkably diverse – married, single, black, white, old, young – it’s all in there. We love people! Some of our pastors are salaried, others are volunteers and both are vital to a healthy church!
When people are judging your heart, and thinking they know why you are doing what you are doing, never get into an argument with them, and never let their words define you – rather walk away and find someone else. There will be someone else. Trust me – I have so many people who appreciate me, love me, would take a bullet for me. People I would never have met if I was still fighting or fleeing from Eliab. Just walk on, and expect the next person to be better.