My first attempt at a title for this post was, “7 types of people I really don’t like.” I know! I know I should love people unconditionally. I know I should go the extra mile. I know I need to be like Jesus, but I fall short so many times in my love and patience for difficult people.
How many can handle a church member who’s always giving you a dirty look, a sarcastic remark or a backhanded compliment.
Frankly, only those who know difficult people can really understand what I am talking about. This is the kind of people I want to talk about in this post. I will briefly mention 7 character flaws of people, and frame them as highly difficult to live or work with.
Having said that, I hope to encourage all of us to strive and commit to growing into the likeness and character of Jesus. This, I believe, is the first key to dealing with difficult people.
The second is to become cognizant of the fact that these people are – family members, co-workers, neighbors, friends. The are in our immediate surrounding.
And the third key is a realization that difficult people are in every organization. They are not only in cooperate America, they are also in churches and on our church staff. They are a part of our lives, one way or the other.
The easiest way to deal with them is to avoid them, stay away from them. But I hope we can realize that:
Learning to live and work with difficult people is a life changing opportunity to go deeper with Christ in character development.
So, how would Jesus deal with
- People who Kiss Up
- People who kick down
- People who are Lone Rangers
- People who are Moody
- People who are full of themselves
- People who just want to use you
- People who are cold vicious backstabbers
Allow me to share a few effective ways that you can deal with difficult people:
Confront with a Christlike attitude
When it comes to dealing with difficult people, we need to understand that being angry, abrasive, showing disgust and snubbing are ineffective ways of handling them.
We also make a big mistake when we say things like, “that’s the way they are.” When we do that we are enabling them and indirectly telling them it’s okay to be difficult to deal with. It isn’t sinful to confront difficult people. It’s sinful to confront them sinfully.
Surround them with unlimited grace
The MO of difficult people is to dominate, control, intimidate. They are aggressive and relentless to this end. They can ruin your day in a hurry. As aggressive as difficult people are in making other people feel small, incompetent, and worthless; as aggressive as they are in scrutinizing, criticizing and telling us what’s wrong with us – so must we aggressively extend grace in unlimited fashion.
Look beyond the flaw
It may sound strange, but difficult people also have other positive qualities. It would be wasteful to isolate them. Looking beyond their flaws can cause you to hear honest feedback, see your own blind spots, and elevate yourself to the place of exceptional leadership. Learning how to tap into and bring out some of their good qualities could also affect them for good.
- blind Guides – Matthew 23:16
- Fools – Matthew 23:17
- Serpents – Matthew 23:33
- Hypocrites – Luke 11:44
- Unmarked graves – Luke 11:44
- Whited Sulpulchres – Matthew 23:27
On another occasion, He drove some out of the temple because they had turned it into a den of robbers. When we look at his life we see an extraordinary ability to confront difficult people, reason with them, and point out the error of their ways. We see an ability to extend unlimited grace by being a friend of sinners.
Finally, we see an ability to look past character flaws and see what could be. He saw the whole man redeemed in Him. For example, He called Peter ‘Rock.’ We know Peter was no ‘Rock.’He was a headstrong guy who always acted and spoke before thinking. Yet Jesus saw something in him.
Jesus’ approach was gospel centered – The ability of God to change broken men and women.
May our approach be the same.