How to Deal with Difficult People
"And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone…"
1 Timothy 2:24, ESV
In dealing with difficult people, it's perhaps one of the greatest challenges we all face in life. In today's times, we find disunity and division everywhere. From politics to religion to sports, to economic classes to races to educational spaces. It's home school vs. public school, online vs. onsite, charter vs. private! For the foodies, it's vegan vs. plant-based, fast foods vs. whole foods, fat vs. skinny for the physically fit, fit vs. unfit. For the country music, it's new country vs. old! And lastly, for the football fans, it's always been Cardinals vs. Raiders! Is it ever going to stop! No! Not as long as we are human. We all have opinions!
There is always going to be some tension and differences with others, but some people we encounter in life are just terribly difficult to be around, not because of their difference of beliefs or opinions but how they treat others. In other words, there's nothing wrong with a difference of opinion or belief, but it's how you treat others due to your opinions and beliefs.
In Jonah's case, the Ninevites were not just difficult people, they were despised people. He had harbored anger against them for their past cruelty. He didn't trust them. He didn't like them or want anything good for them. He definitely did not want God to save them, grant them grace, and preserve their lives! So with that being said, Jonah makes a lousy case study for this topic, and we will look elsewhere to answer that question. There are three essentials for dealing with difficult people. We will cover only one today and the others tomorrow.
There are two important tips that the Apostle Paul pointed out for his protégé, Timothy, that still serve as timeless truths for us today. Let's look at the passage again.
"And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone…" I Timothy 2:24, ESV
First, we need to be reminded that we are the Lord's servants. We are not kings or queens, we are servants. Made to minister to other's needs. Second, we need to stop arguing. Quit the bickering, zip it, and stop being so argumentative. Thirdly, we need to start being kind to everyone. Even the people that irritate us. Kindness is the calling of the Christian who seeks to serve the Lord. Do you want to serve the Lord?
So we learn first and foremost, if we are to deal rightly with difficult people we must be reminded who we are. We are servants, not kings or queens. We must stop arguing so much and start being more kind, not just to those we like but to everyone.
Take some time in prayer and ask God to reveal to you who you have been arguing with and seek to start being more kind. Before you do, ask God to forgive you and be willing to ask the person you've offended to forgive you too. Now hurry up and go and do something good today, before you forget!