There will always be people who don’t agree with you. Some people see the world differently than you do, and may not see your point of view regardless of how hard you try to explain yourself. Some aren’t interested in even trying to see things your way. Or their personality is like oil to your water; they just won’t mix.
And then there are people who seriously dislike you. Even hate you. Remember the quip “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.” There is evil in the world. There are people who are mean, destructive, and are just looking for ways to cause you or others pain and misery.
Seeing the good in people is healthy, but so is acknowledging that some people are destructive. Like Jesus, you have the choice about who you spend your time with, and how you interact with those who may be difficult.
If it seems as though somebody doesn’t like you, ask these questions:
1. Is this person my friend?
A true friend will have your best interests at heart. They may, and should, disagree with you at times, but they are on your side. They may be skilled or unskilled at how they express points of disagreement, but you know they want the best for you.
2. Is there something I can learn from their criticism?
Considering a different viewpoint may actually help you grow or become stronger. A moment of honest feedback can be invaluable even if it feels painful at first. Criticism can be priceless if handled responsibly.
3. What do I want from this relationship?
A nasty comment from someone you hardly know may sting, but is not worth caring much about. Being rejected by a parent or spouse cuts much more deeply, and will not be as easily dismissed. Being needy increases your vulnerability.
4. What power do I have in this relationship?
You can unfriend someone on Facebook, or delete a negative comment on your website. You can refuse a phone call from someone you don’t want to stay connected with. You can choose to limit interaction with a difficult relative.
5. Is this person out to cause me harm?
There will be occasions when the answer is Yes. As Christians, spiritual warfare means we experience evil coming against us, and that often comes in the form of a person. If Jesus had enemies, it’s likely you will too.
How you should respond will be clearer once you are honest about the other person’s character, based on their behavior. We aren’t called to be the ultimate Judge, but being honest about this part of reality puts you in a much stronger position.
If someone is a true friend, or has some criticism that you can learn from, see the negative interaction as “iron sharpening iron.” (Proverbs 27:17) Some challenging relationships are worth investing in. Don’t throw someone away just because they see the world differently than you do. (Proverbs 27:6)
If you don’t have to care, don’t. You can choose to focus on the people you can help rather than on those who dislike you. Don’t be afraid of those who cannot see the mission God has given you to do. (Jeremiah 1:8, Galatians 1:10)
If someone is truly out to get you, call on God as your Protector. Seek His guidance for the way in which you should proceed. Don’t seek revenge (Romans 12:19), but stand firm. Remember that ultimately it’s not you that the evil one is after; it’s just that you’re the only way he can try to get to your Heavenly Father. (Ephesians 6:12-13)
Is there someone who doesn’t like you? Join the club!
Now get on with the job God has given you to do.
Your Turn: Is there someone who you know dislikes you? What action do you plan to take as a result? Leave a comment below.
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