Difficult people are all around you. They’re all around me too. And we know them in the very many ways they present themselves to us.
- the self-centered, self promoting, self aggrandizing narcissist who needs it to be all about him every singe time
- the sour and stern critic, whose only contribution to any situation or scenario is criticism and complaint
- the trouble maker who stirs things up and then steps back to enjoy all the confusion
- the gossip who damages and destroys other people’s reputations for sport
- the manipulating, calculating, never-quite-honest-about-everything control freak
- the drama queen, who is constantly center stage in her own exquisitely complicated, endlessly tragic grand opera.
We could easily list dozens and dozens of other ways people are difficult. Probably its an endless list really, because difficult people are each difficult in their own way. The details differ, the circumstances change, but the experience doesn’t, essentially it is always the same. Difficult people have the ability to impact us, to hurt us, to harm us, to make us sad or even ruin our day. Difficult people can stress us out, bring out the worst in us and drive us crazy. Difficult people could be making you a difficult person too.
Now you might say, I am not going to deal with difficult people. And sometimes that is the best response. You just need to protect yourself. But that cannot always be the response.I tried that for a while. When we started moving forward with this church, introducing change and innovation, it brought choruses of complaint; lots of angry, difficult people were in my face and in my life for a while. Eventually, I just shut them down, and insulated myself as a form of self-defense. And looking back at the situation, say 5 years ago, maybe that is what I had to do. But not dealing with the difficult people definitely prolonged the difficulties. Eventually difficult people must be dealt with.
No matter our personality we can learn to do it in efficient and effective ways, we can position ourself for success when it comes to the difficult people who are inevitably headed our way. It begins in prayer.
Choose a difficult person in your life and prepare to deal with them in prayer. Ask the Lord to position you for success in your dealings with them this week. Then, when the occasion presents itself, deal with them. Afterwards, take the encounter back to prayer and evaluate it there. We learn about great relationships through all of our relationships, including the difficult ones.