Difficult People

Some people are impossibly difficult. At least for you. You can’t stand being around them. Every time you have to deal with them, you have a bad day.

If you’re a Christian, you may wonder what’s wrong with your spirituality when trying to deal with someone you can’t stand. Aren’t you supposed to love them? Isn’t that what Jesus would do?

How about some of these types:

  • Your brother-in-law is always asking you for money, or trying to get you involved in a questionable investment scheme.
  • Your neighbor two doors down consistently points out how much more successful her children are than yours are every time you see her.
  • Your former college roommate has a way of making you feel small and insignificant whenever you get together.
  • Your team leader is consistently inconsistent in what he expects from you, and frequently criticizes you and others in front of the entire team.

Difficult people aren’t just people who are different from you, or don’t happen to like you. They are people who thwart you, bring you down, distract you, and try to impede you on your path toward what God wants you to do.

When a family member, friend, or co-worker is difficult or “irregular,” your life can come to revolve around pacifying them, ignoring them, avoiding them, yelling at them, or fuming under your breath. Of course none of those options are healthy for YOU.

Let me remind you that when He was on earth, Jesus did not spend equal time with everyone. He loved (and loves) each person the same, but some received much more of His energy, attention, and time than others.

Jesus gave most of his time, energy, and attention to those who:

  • Valued who He was,
  • Were able to accept what He had to give, or
  • Refreshed and encouraged Him.

Inevitably Jesus had to deal with difficult people. But He spent the largest amount of time with His friends and disciples, next with those who needed His help and could accept it, and only engaged with the difficult people when absolutely necessary.

What does that mean for you? Following Jesus’ example, you can:

  • Treat everyone with respect, regardless of whether they are difficult or not.
  • Focus most of your energy on those who can accept what you have to offer.
  • Consciously spend time with those who refresh and strengthen you.
  • Refuse to try and convince the difficult people in your life that you are right.
  • Give of yourself generously – to those who value what you have to give.

There are times when God asks you to step beyond these boundaries, and truly sacrifice. When your child or spouse is difficult, or when God specifically sends you to someone or several someone’s who are difficult, He will give you the grace you need to meet the assignment He gives you.

But don’t make the mistake of believing that it’s your Christian duty to make everyone like you and agree with you. Even Jesus didn’t and couldn’t do that.

“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18. Sometimes it’s just not possible.

Your turn: Who are the difficult people in your life? How do you deal with them? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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