When your enemies are complaining about how powerful you are, don’t interrupt them.
Not long ago, a friend of mine was being attacked. His detractors were upset that he was too powerful, too influential, and too well liked. He doesn’t hold office. He isn’t rich. He has no title. He’s just a guy who speaks his mind honestly and truthfully.
For those who seek access to self-appointed political masters, truth-speakers are dangerous.
Some well-intentioned advisors encouraged my friend to denounce the slanderers, to proclaim his powerlessness, deny his influence, and shun his allies. They wanted him to defend himself by denying who had worked diligently to be: a man of character.
There is something to be said about wanting to find common ground with your critics, but only when the criticism has merit.
In Proverbs 20:3, we are told, “It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.”
That’s what my friend was dealing with: fools who wanted to quarrel. They couldn’t assail his positions. They couldn’t find fault with his objectives. They had chained themselves to a politician’s promises, and muzzled their voices to remain in the presence of their political betters.
They were jealous that he had “an audience” unrelated to a political position, and they were frustrated that an audience liked that he told the truth about their favorite politicians.
So, in fact, the “strife” wasn’t real; it was just fools making noise.
And, in this case, it was the kind of noise that simply doesn’t actually matter.
Maybe I need to spell it out. When someone criticizes you for being “powerful” and “popular,” for what exactly do you need to apologize? Let them keep talking while you keep doing what has them so agitated.
Later in Proverbs 20 we find, “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.”
In a world defined by actions, there are those who simply want to grumble. Let them. You have a republic to save.