Do you have a “difficult” person in your church? There are some individuals who are convinced they have the “extra-biblical” gift of criticism. Wow, just writing that sentence caused me to have flashbacks of vivid situations and mug shots. Pardon me; I should have said church directory portraits of individuals that are best described as difficult people. I may be overly kind in calling some of these individuals just difficult people; others have called them Clergy Killers or Pathological Antagonists. Some of the individuals that flashed from my memory bank would be better described as such, but I will for now extend the benefit of the doubt and call them difficult people.
Paul gives a formula for dealing with difficult people in II Timothy 2:
- Don’t allow the other person to pull you into arguing. (II Timothy 2:14) Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.
- Don’t do or say anything you will regret later…in doing so hold fast to truth. (II Timothy 2:15) Do your best to present yourself to god as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
- Don’t allow yourself the luxury of passing on the hurt inflicted by others to those around you to vindicate yourself. (II Timothy 2:16) Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.
- Repeat #1 and ask the question, “What difference will this make in eternity?”(II Timothy 2:23) Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.
- Show an attitude reflective of the position God has placed you in. (II Timothy 2:24) And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
- Have hope; pray for the difficult people in your life. (II Timothy 2:25-26) Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
One final word of truth in dealing with difficult people:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil, Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:17-19)