How Do I Deal with Difficult People?

November 9, 2017

People are frustrating. It’s a fact and unfortunately something we will never get away from. We’re human and our sin nature at some point will come out and will potentially hurt those closest to us (whether intentional or not). I’m sure you have a person or two that come to mind when you hear the word “difficult,” but I want to share with you a few ways I learned from the Bible to respond when I’m frustrated.

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” –2 Timothy 2:23-26 (NIV)

  • Realize you cannot please everyone.

John 5:30 says, I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.

Realizing I couldn’t please everyone was something I learned during my senior year of high school, primarily when I made the decision to not go to college and work full time instead. I got a wide variety of reactions from adults and peers. In this instance, I quickly learned that I had officially entered into adulthood – making decisions for myself that may or may not be supported.

This issue has come up during two other major seasons of my life since then – when I got married at the age of 20, and when my husband and I announced we were expecting our first baby. It was extremely difficult to realize that I had family members that thought we were too young and immature to raise children (neither of which were remotely true). You may have a personality that desperately seeks approval from others, but can I share with you how freeing it is to only seek God’s approval!? Ultimately, His opinion is the only one that matters, so seek His approval first.

  • Refuse to play the game.

John 2:24 says, But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people.

Some people push your buttons to try to get a reaction out of you. Don’t let them win. Stay calm and know that your Father sees you and is so proud of you for not playing the game.

  • Rise above it.

Isaiah 40:31 says, But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

I’m in the middle of an extremely busy season in my office, and I have a lot of coworkers who do not handle stress well and lash out at me over very simple things. My flesh doesn’t like being beat up like this, but my spirit knows they have their own to-do list and are just people that are overwhelmed.

I choose joy during these frustrating days and stay positive and help as best I can. I refuse to play the game of being rude toward others just because my plate is full. When you refuse to play their game and rise above the poor behavior, your life is simpler. It didn’t feel like my life would be simpler while I was getting yelled at for things that were out of my control, but I leave the office at the end of the day knowing I’ve shown Christ’s love during a hard situation, and not regretting anything done or said that day. That makes my like a whole lot simpler.

  • Never retaliate.

1 Peter 3:9 says, Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.

Oh how hard this can be! I don’t like it when people walk all over me, but I’ve been learning that there’s a difference between “letting people take advantage of you” and “being a blessing.” When a family member lashes out on me over something petty, I keep quiet and realize that they are probably going through a tough time and whatever I did was just “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” That doesn’t make what they said to me okay, but it’s me extending grace, which God has done for me plenty of times.

  • Release them.

Matthew 5:44 says, But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”

No one really loves this verse, and it’s a lot easier said than done. I’m encouraged by a story I heard from a guest pastor we had at church where he shared that he prayed for the man who harassed his sister, even though at first he didn’t mean it. Saying it out loud so often eventually changed his heart and he was sincere in his prayer. Mind over matter. Pray for the people in your life that frustrate you. Even if it doesn’t change them, it’ll definitely change you.

  • Live receptively.

Ephesians 4:32 says, Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

One thing that I’ve been convicted of this year is even if I don’t love a person, God does. And if God does, then I should. I have been forgiven of a major debt that I would have to spend eternity paying off – but because of Jesus, I don’t have to.

Even if I don't love a person, God does. | forthejoyministries.com

None of these are easy or happen overnight, but work on them and one day it will be second nature. Please believe me sweet friend when I tell you I have people in my life that are extremely difficult and cause me a lot of frustration. But when I keep the above things in mind, and I remember that God loves them, the pain they’re causing me isn’t what I focus on.

Hugs,

Sarah

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