Recently a blog posted on Desiring God by Stacy Reaoch caught my attention. There isn’t a space in our lives where we won’t encounter difficult people in the workplace, in our communities and in our churches. Relating and connecting with difficult people is a reality.
As people changed by the gospel, we are compelled by grace and love in dealing with difficult people. As spiritual leaders in the local church we can perceive difficult people as obstructionists or even the enemy. We may find our hearts bubbling with negative emotions the minute we see this person. We need a strategy for our hearts.
Listen to her sage counsel:
Here are a six practical ways, among many others, to show love to a difficult person God has placed in your path.
1. Pray for your own heart.
Ask God to soften your heart towards this person, to put off anger and irritability, to put on meekness and kindness, to understand this person’s struggles and meet them with compassion (Colossians 3:12–14).
2. Pray for them.
Ask God to be at work in their hearts, drawing unbelievers to himself and sanctifying believers to become more like Jesus (Philippians 1:9–11).
3. Move toward them, not away from them.
Although our tendency is to want to steer clear of people with whom we have strained relationships, they are exactly the people we need to be intentionally moving toward. Find ways to engage them in conversation, meet them for coffee, send them a text.
4. Find specific ways to bless and encourage them.
Write them a note of appreciation. Buy them a book that has been an encouragement to you. Tell them you are praying for them.
5. Give them grace, just as God extends grace to you.
Remember God’s lavish grace poured out for your own daily sins. Ask God to help you bear with them, forgiving them, as he has forgiven you (Colossians 3:13).
6. Realize that you too could be the difficult person in someone else’s life!
You might not even realize that you are a thorn in the flesh for someone close to you. Don’t be oblivious to your own shortcomings and sins.
Published August 31, 2015