I can’t speak for everyone, but I believe it’s pretty safe to say that I’m speaking for the majority when I say that one of the most difficult things in life is learning to deal with people. We encounter a number of different types of people whether it may be at work, school, or even in ministry and often times the people that we meet have completely different ways of handling things than we do and in the nicest way to put it are just difficult. There is always a purpose behind the people that God allows in our lives and as much as we wish some of them would go away :) there’s more than likely a lesson that we can learn from the situations we face in dealing with people. I can honestly say in the last month, I feel like I have been being attacked in this area on a pretty regular basis so I figured instead of complaining about it and praying that I will stop being attacked, I needed to look at what God is trying to show me and how He’s trying to help me to grow in this season. This list is in no particular order and FYI some is biblical and some are my opinions based off of experience.
1. You have to set boundaries for yourself!!! We have a tendency, especially with ministry stuff, to want to help everyone and we extend ourselves beyond what God has asked of us and now, in the words of my pastor, we’re burned out, busted, and disgusted. I’m going to hope that this is a given but it needs to be said anyways… are you ready? YOU ARE NOT GOD! Stop trying to be superman/woman and trying to be everything to everybody! FYI I’m preaching to myself right now, ya’ll just happen to be tuned in reading this…I struggle with wanting to help everybody and they’re momma and because of that it leaves me drained, irritable, and lacking where I don’t have to be because God never told me to do it. It is okay to say no and I want to be very clear in what I’m about to say so that it is not taken out of context…yes you should pray, yes it is a necessity in the believer’s life but you really don’t have to take the time to pray about everything. Now before you pull my Christian card, let me explain…what I mean by this is God will give you a clear NO about certain things. Yes sometimes you do need to go and take time for the Holy Spirit to guide you on it, but oftentimes God answers with a loud and clear NO and we say you know, well let me pray about it. God gave you the answer you just didn’t like it so you ignored it, call it what it is. That’s a different topic but nonetheless, people will take as much as you are willing to give so you have to learn how to guard yourself so that you don’t become drained. You cannot effectively help anyone if you are weak and your foundation is shaky because you are constantly pouring out but not being replenished. In ministry we can have a tendency to want to be everyone’s support system, prayer warrior, accountability partner, and encourager and we just want to help everybody. Here’s the reality, you can’t. You will be burned out and completely drained. Also stop giving everybody and their momma your number. It’s okay for you have your personal stuff that only people who are the closest to you can reach you on. Don’t feel bad for saying that you don’t give out your personal number or email. THAT’S OKAY! Stop letting people guilt you into doing things that God never told you to do. Set boundaries, guard your heart.
2. Don’t hold on to who hurt you: I know that’s so much easier said than done but when that root is planted it can be difficult to let go of. There was a situation that happened this past week that I felt as though someone who I wouldn’t say we were besties but I had a decent relationship with, I felt as though she completely threw me under the bus. So I’m venting to my best friend about it and she said well maybe this is an opportunity to be like Jesus and love in spite of what people do to you. I’ll be honest….my response was “I’m not trying to be Jesus!” and I jokingly laughed it off. Yes I was in my feelings, yes I was wrong, don’t condemn me to hell, pray for me folks. I know I shouldn't have jokingly said that but it serves a point so bare with me. Later on that day, I have my quiet time and I’m praying about the situation and God nicely reminded me of that comment that I “jokingly” made and said that’s the problem; you aren’t trying to reflect Christ likeness. As Jesus is hanging on the cross and people are standing below Him sneering and mocking Him, He says to God, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34, NIV). Jesus had every right to be upset, fuss, yell, tell them off, but instead He asked God to forgive them. Yes people will hurt you, sometimes intentionally other times maybe not, but you can’t afford to allow those seeds of anger, betrayal, or bitterness to be planted and hinder you from showing Christ likeness. People will try to get you to act out of character especially when you carry the title of “Christian” so when you act like a fool they can look you up and down and say “but you’re supposed to be a Christian.” I think sometimes people believe that because we are Christians that we HAVE to put up with any and everything or that we can’t be upset. I beg to differ; God did not create us to be weak, door mats, or people’s verbal punching bags. Furthermore, His word tells us to be angry but sin not (Ephesians 4:26). It’s okay to be angry but it’s how we respond that makes the difference between us and those who don’t belong to Christ. The longer you hold onto whatever or whoever hurt you the more way you give for sin to begin to take root in unforgiveness. You can’t afford that. Let go of who hurt you.
a. BONUS: Don’t take it personal: Most people who do things or say things to hurt you, it really has absolutely nothing to do with you. Does that it make it okay? No, but if you can learn not to take it personal you’ve already won half the battle. Pray for the people who've hurt you and ask God to change your heart towards them and also to change their hearts. The more you magnify the problem the more you will be focused on what is wrong. Choose to magnify the desire to want to see Gods best in their life instead and God will begin to pull off the layers of hurt in you.
3. Forgive quickly: Matthew 6:15 tells us that if we don’t forgive others for their sins than God won’t forgive us. It’s so easy to want to justify our unforgiveness by saying well so and so hurt me, or they’ve done the unthinkable to me and I could never forgive them. Imagine if God responded to us in that way when we sin against Him. I think sometimes we have the misconception that forgiving a person means that we still have to be buddy buddy with them and hold hands together and walk through the park. Uhm no, I whole heartedly believe that you can forgive a person and go your separate ways. Everyone is not meant to be in your life and sometimes forgiveness also comes with cutting ties and that’s perfectly okay but you have to forgive. It’s also not just about forgiving but learning to forgive quickly. Unforgiveness hurts you, not them. Remember that. Learn to accept an apology you never got and may never get.
4. Try the spirit by the spirit: So jacked up Jackie showed you that her true color was doo doo brown yet you kept trying to make it pretty and perfect pink. Now you got burned and you “never saw it coming.” Lies. Jackie showed you she was up to no good but you refused to see it. That's not Jackie's fault, that's on you honey. God will not blind side you with people, but you have to learn how to allow the Holy Spirit to give you the insider details on a person. The Holy Spirit will check you on people but you have to pay attention! We have a tendency to see what we want to see in people especially if it’s someone that we want to be in a relationship with or befriend. God’s trying to keep you from some mess, but you keep trying to make things work with relationships that are messing you up because you had no business being yoked up with that person. Pay attention to the signs about people that God shows you. Believe it or not, He really does know who is best for you and who can bring out the best in you and also who will bring out the worst. When people show you their true colors stop acting like you’re color blind and don’t see it! What’s a red flag today will likely still be a red flag 5-10 years from now. Pay attention.
5.You can’t carry other peoples burdens/don’t be an enabler: I get it, you want to help right? You want people to feel connected to you. You want to encourage people and hold their hand through the struggle/the process. Trust me I get it. Here’s the thing, people have a tendency to constantly dump their stuff on you not even intentionally sometimes but because they see or think that you’re strong in your faith so they believe you can get a prayer through. They keep dumping their problems on you and you keep receiving it and now it’s weighing you down. Instead of them seeking God, they’re seeking you to help them. They run to you, not God, when they need relief or an encouraging word. They don’t open their bible they turn to their phone or email to reach you. Now you’re over here feeling empty because you’re all poured out yet no one is pouring into you. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my walk with Christ is that I cannot be effective in sharing Christ with people if I’m burned out, empty, and all over the place. You have to realize that if your own burden is not for you to carry, why do you think God wants you to carry someone else’s? You have to learn to pray for others but also point each other to Christ and the word so that people do not become dependent on you and before you know it now you’re a “god” to this person. Yup you’re they’re idol and no human being can replace God point blank and the period the end.
This is not everything but just a bit of what God placed on my heart. We will always have to deal with people; it just is what it is. Allow God to give you guidance and direction because He knows how to deal with each and every one of us. Be encouraged!