Jonathan Richard explains principles for dealing with opposition in ministry in Southwestern Seminary chapel message

Robyn Keller
| Oct 20, 2021

Nehemiah offers a model for how to handle opposition in ministry, Jonathan D. Richard preached in chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Texas Baptist College, Oct. 19. The vice chairman of the seminary’s Board of Trustees and pastor of First Baptist Church Estancia, New Mexico, delivered the message following the conclusion of the annual meeting of the trustees, Oct. 18-19.

Adam W. Greenway, president of Southwestern Seminary and TBC, praised Richard as “an excellent member” of the board. “He has done an outstanding job as a trustee and working as one of our board officers,” Greenway said of the 2014 Southwestern Seminary MET graduate.  

Richard preached from Nehemiah 6:1-14 concerning Nehemiah’s rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem despite opposition, offering three lessons when facing opposition in ministry: be wise, don’t get distracted, and don’t be deceived. 

In encouraging the assembly of students, faculty, staff, and trustees, to be wise in ministry, Richard explained there were people planning to harm Nehemiah because he was rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. Richard clarified how Nehemiah’s enemies were not primarily opposed to the construction of the wall, but rather the revival of hearts of the people living in Jerusalem. 

“They may be coming with personal attacks on you, but they're not attacking you,” Richard said about ministers who face opposition. “They're attacking the Holy Spirit that's inside of you.” 

In Nehemiah 6:5-9, Richard emphasized learning “don’t get distracted,” noting the tactic used by Nehemiah’s enemies try to keep him from building the wall. 

“Sanballat is desperate to get Nehemiah away from there,” Richard explained, inviting the audience to learn from Nehemiah’s focus on God. “Satan is desperate to get you away from your ministry.”

“It does not matter who or what the opposition is as long as you remember who God is,” he said.

The final lesson, Richard explained, is not to be deceived, as Shemaiah tried to deceive Nehemiah and encourage him to sin.

 “Sometimes your closest allies or your closest friends will surprise you,” he said. “And this is where the ‘don't be deceived’ comes in; you need to be very careful.” 

Richard summarized his message by encouraging Southwestern Seminary students, faculty and staff to remember the lessons of Nehemiah and to stay strong in the face of opposition.

“Push to the end, don't be deceived, stand firm,” Richard reassured. “God wants to use us to accomplish His will.” 

The entire sermon can be viewed here.

Chapel is held every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 10 a.m. (CT) in MacGorman Chapel on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Chapel may be viewed live at swbts.edu/live.