Do you have some difficult relationships? I have heard it said there are basically nine types of difficult people we will face throughout our lifetimes.
There is the “Sherman Tank”, they will run right over you. There is the “Star Performer”, who feels they are entitled to your preferential treatment. There is the “Megaphone”, who will talk your ear off. There is the “Bubble Buster”, who deflates everyone’s enthusiasm. There is the “Volcano”, who has temper like Mt. St. Helens. There is the “Crybaby”, who is a chronic complainer. There is the ”Nitpicker”, who is an unpleasable perfectionist. There is the “Backbiter”, who is a master of the calculated rumor. There is the “Space Cadet”, who is simply on a different wavelength than everyone else.
Personally, I think I can make that list a little longer. Can you think of other labels you would give the difficult person in your life? That might be fun, and even therapeutic! Here is what I know about difficult relationships. Everybody has at least one. Everybody can become one to someone else. We cannot change them but we can learn to relate with most of them. We will not get along equally with everyone. We get along best in our relationships when we mature spiritually and emotionally. It is not personal; hurting people, hurt people.
Let me share seven biblical responses to difficult people.
- Realize you cannot please everybody. Even Jesus could not please everyone. (John 8:31-47)
- Refuse to play their game or get drawn into their drama. The Pharisees tried to catch Jesus by pitting him against the government. He refused to play, “But knowing their evil intent, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, hypocrites?” (Matt 22:18-20)
- Never retaliate. “You have heard that it was said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matt 5:38-39)
- Pray for them. “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matt 5:44-45)
- Control your temper. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19-20)
- Be quick to forgive and even quicker to ask for forgiveness. “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.” (Matt 6:14-15)
- Remember that everything and everyone, even a “difficult person”, has God’s fingerprints on them. “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.”
Difficult people are common. Choose a response to them that is uncommon.