Friday, April 2, 2010

To Live is Christ — wise with difficult people

My DH attended a webinar at work on the topic of handling difficult people. I’m reading a novel and last night’s chapter was about handling difficult children. Our granddaughter posed a question on Facebook about how to deal with a difficult person. Clerks in retail stores face this challenge continually. There seems no end to the supply of difficult people.

I suppose David would have used the word “enemies” in speaking of those who tried to overthrow him as king, yet they were difficult people as well. In humility, he asked God for help and God taught him how to battle his enemies.

Blessed be the Lord my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle — my lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge, Who subdues my people under me.  (Psalm 144:1–2)
In David’s case, the battles were physical. In today’s workplace, this is not encouraged and could be illegal or worse. A few weeks ago in our city, a disgruntled employee went into his workplace with a shotgun and killed and wounded two people he considered his adversaries, then turned the gun on himself. His way of settling differences ended in disaster and the problems were never resolved.

I don’t know what my husband’s webinar told him, but I’m certain that it included patience, listening, understanding, and other legal and fair options. When I am struggling over what to do with a difficult person, God gives me the same advice. Consider all the angles.

One of our GD’s Facebook friends gave this suggestion in regard to her ‘difficult’ person: “Be so nice to them that they cry when you leave the room.” That is biblical too. Jesus says to love our enemies and do good to those who hate or persecute us. Romans 12:21 says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

In the Old Testament, God often took on the battle for His people and told them to “Stand still” and let Him fight for them. On those occasions, God confused or confounded the enemy in some way and they either killed each other or fled.

On some occasions He gives odd instructions for war that would normally make an enemy laugh, but they worked. How many cities have been taken simply by marching around them until the walls fall down? Only Jericho — and only God could win a conflict with that strategy. 

My conclusion is that there are more ways to wage war than by actual fighting and more ways to meet the challenge of difficult people than by heating up the conflict. God is wise. He knows what will work in each situation.

Too often I go to Him after I’ve run out of resources or ideas. Nevertheless, when I need advice and wisdom, He gives it. His instructions may seem odd or strange at times though. If that is the case, I need to remember the ways that He led His people to victory, both in the OT and the NT, and also in my personal experience. His strategies are far better than all great and wise human leaders. He always knows what to do.

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