As Christians we should try to get along with the people around us. That does not mean we have to always agree with them, but we also should not intentionally look for opportunities to anger and upset people. Romans 12:18 tells us, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” This verse does not say it will always be possible, but we should try.
Here are 8 tips for dealing with difficult people for Christians.
Speak With Respect
Disagreements and misunderstandings will happen in life, but this is not an excuse to disrespect others. The Bible tells us that we should speak to others with love, even if we have to deal strongly with them. Love and respect should be our guide. Our speech should be kind but firm when necessary.
Ephesians 4:15 “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”
Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
Colossians 4:6 “ Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
Christian Ways To Deal With Difficult People
Maybe the best way to sum this all up is to deal with people in love. Love the unsaved in such a way that they will want to know more about your God.
Follow The Pattern in Matthew 18
There is a distinct pattern given in Matthew 18 for dealing with a problem. I believe this is primarily talking about dealing with problems among believers, but it can be applied in many situations. First you go privately to the one with whom the problem is. Secondly, you take a couple of people with you so that you can establish the facts and that it is no longer a “he said, she said” argument. Finally, if you cannot resolve the issue then bring it to the attention of the authorities. Again, these verses are talking about the authority of the church, but it could also be applied to your office situation.
Matthew 18:15-17 “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”
Along the lines of this, remember that there is safety in a multitude of counselors. Find people to talk with about the problem. These should be trusted people and not the church gossip. When talking to others about the problem, they may point out to you your own faults in the conflict. Check out Proverbs 11:14; 24:6.
Sometimes You Need To Walk Away
Sometimes it is better to walk away from an argument than to continue to dwell on it. This is not liberty to walk away from everything. There are things worth fighting for. But then there are things that just aren’t worth your time and allowing them to spoil your own relationship with the Lord.
You have to allow the Lord to give you direction on how to deal with different problems. After David was anointed king, but before he took the throne, he had to deal with Saul. God had already rejected Saul from being king over Israel. David realized that was a fight between Saul and God.
David allowed God to fight on his behalf. This is the same man who years before stood up for God and fought on behalf of God when facing Goliath. David had wisdom on knowing when it was time to fight and when it was time to walk away and allow God to handle the problem.
1 Samuel 24:10 “Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the Lord had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the Lord’s anointed.”
Their Argument May Not Be With You
Sometimes a person will take out their frustration and anger on you when you aren’t really the problem. It doesn’t make you feel any better, but it may keep you from carrying a burden that isn’t really yours to carry. You may represent something (Christianity, God, authority) that they don’t like. Try not to take the argument and conflict personally.
The Hebrew people said to Samuel that he was too old to be their leader. They wanted a king who could go out to war and fight with them. Samuel felt pretty bad about the situation. He went to God depressed and complaining. God replied that the people were not angry with Samuel but they were angry with God. They were just taking out their frustrations on the prophet.
1 Samuel 8:7 “And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”
Before we can effectively deal with the problems in others, we must take care of ourselves. Matthew 7 gives an illustration that may seem silly, but it talks about human nature. The idea is that someone with a large piece of wood sticking out of their eye is criticizing another person who has a speck of dust in theirs. The one with the large piece of wood tries to ignore their own problem while dealing with the problems of others. Don’t be that person. Go to God and deal with your own faults before you try to correct others. When you humble yourself before God in confession then you will more gently handle the situation that you are in with the other person.
Matthew 7:3-5 “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
Remember You Are Accountable To God
You are accountable to God for your own actions. You cannot control what the other person does, but you can control how you respond. They too will be accountable for their actions, but not to you. They are accountable to God. God will hold you responsible for the way you act towards them. Paul admonishes us in Romans to realize that we are individually responsible for our actions and to not intentionally cause others to stumble and fall before the Lord.
Proverbs 28:13 “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
Romans 14:10-13 “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”
Pray For Them
The book of 1 Corinthians is a book of conflict. Paul was having to deal with problems in the church. But he starts the book by saying he is praying for them. He certainly gave them the correction they needed, but he began with prayer. He then closes the book by asking for God’s grace on the Corinthian believers.
1 Corinthians 1:3, 4 “ Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;”
1 Corinthians 16:23, 24 “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.”
Matthew 5:44, 45 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Sometimes You Must Agree To Disagree
Realize that ignoring a problem does not make it go away. One of the greatest missionary evangelists of all time, the Apostle Paul, had a disagreement with his mentor Barnabas. These two great men could not avoid a conflict. It is unlikely that we can too. However, they were able to deal with their conflict by agreeing to disagree on the issue. The Bible does not say who was right or wrong in the argument it just says that they split up.
As a side note, Paul later wrote that he wanted the young man John Mark (the cause of the conflict) to join him in the work because Paul could see he was profitable.
Acts 15:37-40 “And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus: And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.”
Summary: Treat People With Love
Maybe the best way to sum this all up is to deal with people in love. Love the unsaved in such a way that they will want to know more about your God. Love them so that their arguments will melt away. Love your Christian brother in a manner that will help him see how petty his arguments with you are. Your love may bring conviction to the saved or unsaved to help them turn to God for forgiveness.