You know that one person that seems to set your nerves on fire just by stepping into the room? Or the moment you have to fight with your eyes not roll every time they open their mouth? There’s a couple people in my life that I have to basically beg my brain to send nice things to my mouth to say. I wish it weren’t this way, but I’m sure that this struggle is common to everyone. If you have had any experience working with the public, even just a little bit, you know that not everyone is easy to be around. People in general are difficult to deal with, because we’re all imperfect. But some people in particular pull a little extra on your nerves. However, having a consistently godly character means treating everyone with love no matter how unlovable they might seem to you.
James 3:10 says “from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” You can’t be sweet and kind to lovable people and hateful to unlovable people. Everyone can love a lovable person, but God calls us to love everyone, including those that are hard to love.
So I’ve come up with a couple tips that I believe will make it easier to love difficult people better.
- Don’t be quick to anger (Proverbs 16:32)– Patience is important to have with everyone, but people who you don’t mesh with require some extra tolerance. Part of this is simply recognizing the differences between you two instead of getting frustrated with them. Instead of thinking that their actions are wrong and that you’re always in the right, view them and their actions as simply different from yours. This attitude makes it easier for me to overlook their qualities that grate on my nerves..whether they are in the wrong or not.
- Be a peacemaker – Seeking peace in every relationship includes having the whole package, you have to have patience, forgiveness, understanding, and love. Avoid issues that may cause disagreements. Don’t be the one that begins an argument or a problem, be the one that ends it.
*Something to think about this point is that when an issue arises, you may have to “give in” for the sake of solving the problem, even if you are in the right and they’re not. Decide that preserving the peace between the two of you is more important than your pride.
- Speak kindly to them (Ephesians 4:29)- This one is especially hard. Harsh words or snarky comments from others provoke the worst from me. It’s a true struggle for me to to retaliate problematic remarks with kind words. However, it’s much easier on your own heart and mind when you focus on building them up instead of putting them down, and it will save the relationship.
- Have a constant attitude of forgiveness- Even if a syllable of an apology is never spoken, forgive them anyways. For your own peace of mind, forgive their wrongs and move on. Holding on to every little thing that irritates you doesn’t change them, it only disturbs your own peace of mind.
- Have humility (Proverbs 16:18)- This “difficult person” isn’t the only person in the world with faults, and that includes you. Understand that everyone has their own weird or annoying quirks, and we have no right to say that someone else’s faults are worse than our own. Start to focus more on your heart and attitude towards them, and you won’t focus as much on all the “problems” they have.
If I constantly focus on what they’re doing wrong, how they need to change, or how much they irritate me, I will never learn to love them better. I can’t control their actions towards me, but I can control how I treat them. When showing them love becomes your priority in that relationship, actually loving them will automatically follow. Set your mind on showing pure, godly love, and tolerating the “difficult” people in your life will become easier.
Think about how the holy, sovereign King of the universe is able to love a sinner like you. If a perfect being can love someone as low as me, I should be able to love anybody.
Romans 12: 14-21 is the perfect passage on how to practically love others in a godly way. The best way to deal with hard people is to show them love and goodness; overcome evil with good. An important part of this is praying for God to change your heart towards them. Keep reminding yourself that you are in charge of your actions and attitude, not theirs. Making sure that you treat them with love and kindness is your priority, changing them or pointing out their problems is not your priority. Live peaceably and honestly with everyone, focus on changing your own heart and let God take care of changing theirs. When love becomes your only motivation, everything else will become easier.