How to get along with difficult persons
Studies show that the number one cause of stress isn't too many hours at work, financial worries or career uncertainty - it's difficult people.
Unfortunately, we will never be able to get away from them because the truth is, it's God who intentionally places difficult people in our lives. But why would God do this?
Here are three reasons:
1 To alert you to the same or other problems in your own life.
"Why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own." Matthew 7:3 NLT. Jesus said that when you see someone with a fault or a sin you should not immediately point it out or try to change him. You should first ask yourself this question: Do I have the same traits or problems in my own life?
2 To reveal your character.
"... under pressure your faith life is forced into the open and shows its true colours." James 1:3 MSG. We can't hide who we are when we are under pressure, not prepared, or not expecting it; our true character will always come out.
3 To produce a Godly character in you.
"... don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well developed." James 1:4 MSG. Don't try to avoid difficult people or circumstances all the time. God does not put difficult people in your life for you to change them. God puts difficult people in your life so that He can change you.
Having established these three principles, let's look at how we can deal with difficult people:
a Control your tongue.
Our first tendency when dealing with difficult people is to respond with sharp or hurtful words. "The tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do." James 3:5 NLT. When we respond without thinking, we let our words reveal our hurt, but they also cause hurt. Do you want to learn how to control your tongue? James says, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry." James 1:19 NLT.
b Respond with kindness.
"A gentle response diffuses anger. But a sharp tongue kindles a temper fire." Proverbs 15:1 MSG. If you have an option, respond with kindness instead of anger or hate. Be sympathetic to the other person's feelings and situation. Most of the time, when someone is being difficult, it has to do with a problem in his own life. Never underestimate the power of a kind or encouraging word.
c. Avoid a destructive argument.
"Beginning a quarrel is like opening a floodgate." Proverbs 17:14 NLT. There are some people who thrive on getting into arguments, but God has given us the power to control ourselves, to love others and to stand with integrity.
d Resolve conflict quickly.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:23, "If you enter your place of worship and are about to make an offering and you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right." Take the initiative to make things right, before matters get worse, because bitterness in your heart also hurts your relationship with God.
e Decide to love unconditionally.
God wants you to love people as is. Jesus said, "I'm challenging you. I'm telling you to love your enemies." Matthew 5:43-47 MSG.
Jesus' statement questions the good of only loving people who are easy to love. His challenge to us is to learn to love those that we would rather not love.
God loves you, faults and all. He tells you not just that He loves you, He tells you to love others in that same way. Love is God's number one command for us as we learn how to deal with difficult people. 1 John 4:11 NLT encourages us "Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other."
- Dwight Fletcher is pastor of Transformed Life Church. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.