Let’s talk about difficult people. Know any?
Everyone does and if you don’t, let me tell you, you’re the only person in the world. I say that with all due respect.
Just this morning, I was mulling over the difficult people in my life, struggling with the ever niggling “what to do”. Is the strain in our relationship my fault? Does it really take two to tango? How do I address this person and various circumstances with peace, objectivity and Christ-likeness? Is there really anything to forgive in this relationship–real sin–or merely extreme differences? Am I developing a root of bitterness and what bearing does this have on the rest of my life and my relationship with God?
In an unrelated devotional (except that with God everything has a purpose and a time and nothing is unrelated on coincidental) I came across a familiar passage:
“Jesus replied, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.’ So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?’ ” John 21:22-23
Father God sat me down. I imagine Him literally sitting across from me, my Bible spread across my knees between us and Him gently offering to explain it to me.
The back story to the earlier passage is that Jesus had just indicated to Peter that he would suffer and die in his service to Christ. A bit alarmed, Peter looked back and saw John a ways behind them. Peter asked Jesus, “What about him?”
Now you see Jesus’ answer in context.
There had obviously been a bit of rivalry between some of the disciples before. We read of them discussing who might be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. We know that Peter and John were among those closest to Jesus and, being human, I imagine they ocassionally wondered if Jesus loved the other more, or if Jesus was being entirely fair.
And so Peter had grounds for his question, “Lord, what about him?”
How many times have I said that when dealing with the difficult people in my life. “Lord, what about them?”
- Why am I the only one working in this marriage?
- Why am I the only one who sees this is a problem?
- Why am I always the one to give in or back down?
- Why do they always make me feel like an idiot?
- Why do they always get their way?
- Why do they always win?
- Why must they always be right?
What about them?
He gives me the same answer: “If it is my will … what is that to you? You, follow me.”
It really is that simple. I don’t have to resolve my relationship with this person, necessarily understand where their coming from, make my position known, stand up for myself, defend my rights, win the argument, convince them to step up … what is that to me?
My only responsibility is to follow Jesus.
And here’s the best part. When I follow Jesus I will:
- Love others as He loves me. (John 15:12)
- I will have peace that passes understanding. (Phil. 4:7)
- I will have life and peace. (Romans 8:6)
- Nothing shall by any means hurt me. (Luke 10:19)
- Nothing will separate me from God’s love. (Romans 8:39)
It really does simplify things. Instead of mulling over relationships, or beating the proverbial dead horse, or wondering what to do, I have only to do one thing. I have one focus, a single goal and a promised out come.
I will follow Jesus. All the “what abouts” and “what ifs” are His job.
Who are the difficult people in your life? How have you dealt with them in the past?
This really is a powerful message. Thanks for the article. It really hit me, because I have had to deal with some difficult people lately.
John, I’m thrilled that what God is teaching me spoke to you too. Sometimes, I feel so hard headed; He has to tell me the same things often. 🙂
Difficult people are especially sensitive situations when they are in the family. I pray God gives you wisdom in every situation to follow Jesus, eyes on Him alone, and let the others enjoy the wake of His love through you.