Dealing With Difficult People
Let’s face it- if you’re alive in this world, you will encounter difficult people. When we think of difficult people, a number of adjectives probably come to mind: rude, lazy, self-centered, selfish, arrogant, belittling, underhanded, and so on. Since we can’t run away and become hermits, let’s discuss some thoughts on dealing with them.
Realize that the real problem is not people. The enemy will use people to get at us, so the real problem is the devil. Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) says: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ask yourself how much of the problem is really you? Be honest with yourself.
Remember that not everyone thinks the same as you or has the same background and upbringing. Don’t assume they understand your point of view. You may need to spend some time listening to them so that they will then listen to you.
Don’t automatically think the worst of someone. Many disagreements start with a simple misunderstanding. I have found it is better for me if I choose to think the best of people. I Corinthians 13:4-7 (Modern English Version, MEV) says: Love suffers long and is kind; love envies not; love flaunts not itself and is not puffed up, does not behave itself improperly, seeks not its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
Understand God often uses these situations to shape you and grow you. He will often place us with people who rub us the wrong way in order to rub the rough edges off us. Seek the Lord to see if He is using the situation to try to affect change in you.
You can’t run away. I have found that a change of location does not remove problem people. The enemy is aware of what irritates us or gives us problems. Therefore, if we run away from a difficult person, the devil will simply send a new person to bother us at our new location. Instead, we need to deal with the situation and learn how to overcome it.
If confrontation must occur, then do it in an attitude of love. Ephesians 4:15 (New Living Translation, NLT) tells us: Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.
Speak good over them, even if they do you wrong. Matthew 5:43-47 in the Message Bible (MSG) says it quite clearly. “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
This is by no means a conclusive list, but it is a good start. As long as there are other people in this world we will need to walk in love and use godly strategies to maintain pleasant and productive relationships.