A neuropsychologist named Karen Horney studied interpersonal trends in people and determined that there are three kinds of people. She called them “moving toward, moving away and moving against” people. We are all more comfortable in one of these interpersonal stances than the other. Gregarious, outgoing, friendly people are “moving toward” people. Shy, retiring or fearful folks are “moving away” people. And angry, critical, vengeful or mean-tempered individuals are called “moving against.”
I would add a fourth, respectfully. Some people are “moving forward” people. They are called leaders. “Moving forward” people are taking on a difficult path, a tough assignment or a growth challenge. Nehemiah was a “moving forward” person. Though his background did not betray this, he was a person who had instinctive “moving forward” tendencies. He knew how to lead people. Perhaps he learned by watching the most powerful man on the planet in that day… a king named Artaxerxes. Maybe he saw these characteristics in other people he admired.
But the “moving forward” person will always… let me underscore that… ALWAYS encounter the “moving against” people. In Nehemiah’s story, his “moving against” people were named Sanballat, Tobiah and a host of other men who aspired to leadership of the scattered remnant of Judah. His presence brought a threat that they could only “move against.” To do otherwise… to embrace his plan, to endorse his leadership or to retire away… would mean a substantial surrender of control and influence they had acquired.
Whether you work in a business environment, the political world or church-related work there will always be “moving against” people that must be confronted. And yet, as one high level leader has said, “a kite takes flight in resistance to the wind, not with it.” In our lives, when the hand of God is moving us to accomplish the work of God, the wind will always blow against us at some point. Don’t let it wreck your kite! Rise because of it. Know that “the Lord is your stronghold.”
When Nehemiah began to hear the repeated and intensifying taunts of the enemies around him, he did not attack them in return. IN fact, his strategy for rising was to fall… on his knees. He prayed, “Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! Do not forgive their iniquity, and do not let their sins be blotted out before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders.” (Nehemiah 4:4-5)
So when the “moving against” people show up… and they will… don’t collapse in fear or attack in retaliation. Stand in prayer and let the Lord fight the battle for you. “Our warfare is not with flesh and blood…” Paul reminds us. And the victory is not ours… but the Lord’s. We simply need to learn to rise when the wind picks up… and pray when the pressure is greatest!
FOR MEDITATION: So we built the wall… for the people had a mind to work. Nehemiah 4:6
FOR REFLECTION: How have “moving against” people made your life difficult? Are you fighting back… or falling down in prayer?