Dealing With Difficult People
Have you ever encountered a person who rubbed you the wrong way? You’ve tried your best to be kind to them but still there is seemingly no progress, their attitudes remain rude, argumentative, and condescending. This person could be your boss, neighbor, or even your family member. You’ve wrecked your brain trying to come up with scenarios to make interactions with this person even slightly agreeable and you’ve come up short. What can we do as Christians to deal with these types of people in our lives?
The first thing we should do is refer to our life manual-the Bible. As people we sometimes skip referring to our Bibles for advice, thinking that an issue we are dealing with is modern and couldn’t possibly be mentioned there. Instead, we must get into the habit of going there first because it eliminates our dependence on ourselves, or others for advice. We should seek out the word of God to lead us in every area of our lives because doing so places our reliance on God’s advice. Don’t get me wrong, the people we love can most times offer us pretty sound advice based on their life experiences which is helpful. However, seeking our answers first from God’s word allows God to speak to us specifically. God knows us personally and is with us every step of our lives, and thus can offer the best advice and wisdom for our lives.
The Bible teaches us to love whenever we encounter criticism. Proverbs 15:1 says, “...a gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” When you encounter people who remain disgruntled no matter your inviting attitude, you must remain steadfast in the word of Christ and resist the urge to indulge in any sort of tit-for-tat behavior. 2 Timothy 2:23-24 states, “Ignorant arguments only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.” When I read God's word on this issue, I was taken aback and I realized how the proper way to handle this issue was certainly not my natural reaction. Naturally, we want to be right and prove our points and extinguish the agitator. This is not what God calls us to do. Although this is not easy, it is extremely necessary for our spiritual growth.
Many times in our lives, we are told to “Tell someone off” because, after all, “Who do they think they are?!" I admit, in the past I would have been the first person to start yelling, being rude, and evening up the score. But in order to follow Christ we have to die to ourselves, our old way of thinking, and our old ways of handling our problems. God calls us to patience, empathy, and love. It’s hard to love those who are not kind to us and embrace us. Yet, that is what we are called to do as Christians. In order to combat these strong personalities, we need to be grounded in God’s word in order to emerge unscathed spiritually.
Here are some tips to remain in accordance with God’s word in these situations:
- Keep a quiet time with God daily. In keeping a quiet prayer time with God daily, we welcome His instruction into our lives.
- Review as many scriptures as you can find on dealing with difficult people. Keep them on hand or commit them to memory so that you can use them when you need them.
- Pray for the person who is causing you the pain.
- Avoid engaging this person in any combative conversation. Instead, remove yourself if possible and if you cannot, simply tell them that you are not willing to have the discussion at the present time because you feel that it is not a good time.
- Keep an even tone, keep eye contact, and resist the urge to have your own anger outburst.
- Ask God to give you strength.