Friday, 03 April 2015 19:02

Overcoming Negative Cheerleaders

Written by  Candy Arrington
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When I was a child, we attended all the football games for the high school where my father was once a football star. Not only did we have season tickets for the home games, we traveled to all the “away” games as well. For years, I took a book and read during the games because I didn’t understand what was happening on the field. Even though I wasn’t looking at the field, or the cheerleaders, I still heard the cheers and learned them from sheer repetition. One that still resonates with me today goes like this: “Whup ‘em up the side of the head, hey, whup ‘em up the side of the head, hey, hey, hey!”

Do you have a person in your life who is a negative cheerleader, someone who constantly points out your shortcomings and negatively impacts your self-image? A person who, in effect, “whups” you up the side of the head whenever possible?


In the Bible, Nehemiah had a negative cheerleader, several in fact, who worked non-stop to thwart his efforts. Nehemiah faced a huge challenge in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Not only was it a back-breaking task, but there were folks around like Tobiah and Sanballat who didn’t want him to succeed. Sanballat made it his personal mission to discourage Nehemiah and his helpers. He flung dagger-like comments, threatened, and enlisted the help of others to frustrate their plans. He attempted to defeat by discouraging. Many of us have experienced this type of negative cheerleader in our lives.


So how do you overcome adversarial people?



Remember foundational truths– God is our source, and no matter how impossible a situation or relationship seems, God can provide the strength and wisdom we need. God is our advocate no matter who is our adversary. And if God is for us, who can be against us? He is faithful to those who honor, obey, and seek Him.



Choose your battles– I have a relative who is argumentative no matter what the topic of conversation. Over the years, I’ve learned the more I try to explain my point of view, the more animated and argumentative he becomes. Often an adversary is looking to pick a fight just for the sake of opposition, and many times the fight really isn’t worth it. So when someone baits you, employ self-control and wisdom to determine if it’s a battle worthy of response.



“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.”

(Proverbs 25:28 NIV)



Utilize your gifts– Each of us has God-given gifts and talents, but many times, when we’re enduring a difficult situation or we’re under attack from an individual, we forget these gifts and talents. God knows the challenges we currently face, and are going to face in the future, and equips us to handle them. Forgetting your gifts and talents is like tying one hand behind your back. Utilize all God has given you.



Temper your responses– Many times, when we’re confronted by adversity, our immediate response is to lash out in anger. And sometimes our target is one closest to us rather than the actual culprit. It’s common to fire off a verbal volley at a family member or close friend rather than the real source. Instead, take your concerns, the injustice of the situation, and your anger to God in prayer. He can take your anger and frustration, and through the prompting of the Holy Spirit, provide wise counsel and comfort.



Remain on guard– The Bible says those rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem worked with one hand while holding a weapon in the other. They stationed guards at the lowest points in the wall. When dealing with an adversary, be prepared and use the tools at your disposal rather than exposing your areas of weakness. Your greatest weapons are wisdom and discernment rather than a sharp tongue or physical strength. While fear is often an issue in any type of confrontation, God is a more than capable ally.


“Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome.”

(Nehemiah 4:14 NIV)



Shift your focus– When you’re facing a difficult situation or tormentor, it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself. Instead, focus on God. Stop listening to the ones who are telling you you’ll never succeed, criticizing your efforts, challenging your wisdom, or threatening. Trust God has a purpose and plan for your life and you can overcome present difficulties with His strength and direction. He is at work, even now, in ways you can’t see, smoothing your path and rendering your adversaries ineffective. Like Nehemiah, with God’s help, you can block out negativism and focus on the mission God has for you.



Candy Arrington is coauthor of Aftershock: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House Publishers). Candy and her husband, Jim, live in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where she writes about the lessons God is teaching her. Visit


Last modified on Thursday, 23 April 2015 19:11
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