Everyone I know has at least one person in their life that causes them an extra amount of stress, frustration, and even discouragement. Let’s face it… some people are just difficult. And chances are that you have a few in your life who are especially high maintenance. Let’s choose to refer to them as EGR’s (Extra Grace Required)! So what do we do about the difficult people in our lives?
Well first of all, let’s be honest about one thing. The term difficult people is redundant. For every EGR in your life, you are likely to be the same for someone else. Because we all come to the table with our own set of difficulties, pasts, weaknesses, and desires. Any time you get a mix of several people in one place (like church) with all of these factors in mind, there brews a concoction for stress, arguing, cliches, outcasts, and hurt feelings.
You see this early on in the school system with kids who never eat at that table because “we don’t talk to them.” And that mentality carries all the way from junior high straight to adulthood. I’ve even heard people use it as an excuse for not going to church: “I’m not going to some church with all of these people who are so [fill in the blank]!”
Complaining about difficult people at church is much like complaining about all of the sick people in the hospital. If you don’t like them there, where would you suggest they go? So I have put together what I feel are a few key thoughts for dealing with the difficult people in your life.
- Remember that they are on a process of growing to be like Christ. Some grow differently than others, and some have different issues. Help them through it (Galatians 6:1-3) .
- Deal with your own rough edges. If you are the one having most of the conflicts with people, realize that the common denominator might be you. Be humble enough to realize that there could be places where you need to grow. In other words, stop thinking of people who need to read this blog, and apply some of this to yourself first (Romans 2:1-4)!
- Seek peace. Scripture encourages us repeatedly to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), to accept an offense in order to attain peace (Colossians 3:13), and to do all we can short of sin to live peaceably with all people (Romans 12:16-18). Forgive when needed. Ask forgiveness when needed.
- Choose your inner circle wisely. Just because they are part of your church family does not mean you have to be BFF’s (“Best Friends Forever” to those my generation or older). Stay closest to the people who lift you up and make you more like Christ (Proverbs 13:20), while not ignoring the others.
- Don’t gossip. Just because you prefer some people less than others, does not give you permission to trash them to other people (Proverbs 18:6-7). In fact, do the opposite. Speak life about that person (Proverbs 18:20-21). Don’t be fake! But choose to build others up rather than tear them down. And don’t stress yourself over what others may or may not be saying about you. The truth always comes out, and the person talking smack always ends up looking much worse in the end.
God uses difficult people in our lives to grow us to be more like Him and to help others be more like Him also. Be gracious to them, even as God has been gracious to you. Remember: People are not our standard, Jesus is. Let’s focus on Him together.