How do I deal with difficult people?
“Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.”
2 Timothy 2:23-24
To deal with the difficult people in our lives, we need to understand why they are difficult. We live in a fallen world and we all sin. Sometimes we are the difficult ones ourselves. Sometimes people are difficult because there is a source of pain in their lives.
When we deal with people who are difficult, we have a choice in how we respond. And most of the time, our response is the only thing we can control in the situation.
5 Effective Ways to Deal with Difficult People
#1.) Don’t take the bait
Anytime you deal with difficult people, there is “bait.” There’s an offense, a conversation or comment, tempting you to attack them back.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. –Luke 17:1
There is going to be offense and you are going to deal with difficult people. It’s inevitable. However, what you do with the “bait” matters. When we choose to take the bait, offense grows in our hearts and leads to bitterness. When we don’t take the bait, God’s love grows in our hearts and we are able to serve others.
#2.) Face your own junk
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23
We all have junk in our lives. Oftentimes, our junk causes us to act a certain way or it determines how we treat people. No matter what your circumstances are, use the difficult situation to grow. When we deal with our junk first, it opens up doors to help the difficult people in our lives.
What difficult situations are you facing and how can you use them as an opportunity to grow?
#3.) Focus on pleasing One instead of everyone
“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10
It’s easy to get caught up in trying to please everyone. Jesus loved and served people, but he didn’t aim to please everyone. He knew God had Him on a mission, more important than winning favor with people. Jesus kept His focus on God’s mission and accomplished the greatest victory! Through Him, we are forgiven of our sins and have eternal life with God!
When we try to please God first with our lives, we can serve others better.
“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.”
1 Peter 3:9
God wants everyone to know Him. Displaying God’s unconditional love to difficult people opens opportunity for God to move. When you are kind and a blessing to difficult people, you are serving God’s mission.
#4.) Release difficult people to God
Sometimes, there is nothing else to do but forgive and release the difficult people to God. It is not our job to hold grudges. Our job is to forgive and serve people. They may have intended you harm, but God can use what was done against you for the benefit of other people.
Our deepest places of pain create our best platform.
Your pain enables you to see the places of hurt in other’s lives. We have a better understanding of the reason for other’s difficulty.
#5.) Live proactively, not reactively
Hurting people, hurt people. Difficult people may be hurting. How can you help them? Instead of dealing with their actions toward you, look deeper. Serve, love and care for them in a way that helps them grow.
Have an expectation for God to move in your life. Pray for strength, maturity and wisdom.
People need help being set free from pain. Help them find freedom! Gently instruct them and point them to the truth of God. Pray for them. Pray for a heart change and a revelation of God’s character. When we are mature and strong enough in God, we can help others through their pain.
Serving other people with a heart of God is the greater purpose in life. Purpose is not all about “What am I supposed to do with my life”, but
“Who am I supposed to be?”
“Whose heart do I carry?”
“What is my purpose on this Earth?”
Our purpose is partnering with God to help change the world. God wants to shift our focus from the pain caused by difficult people, to a heart for hurting people and serving them. Deal with the difficult people in your life in a way that partners with God – through grace and compassion!
Listen to the full podcast:
Podcast – How Do I Deal With Difficult People?