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Monday, March 16, 2015

Youth Lesson: Dealing with Difficult People

A couple weeks ago, I taught on a topic that is something I struggle with and I know that many others struggle with it as well. All of our youth students have faced, are facing, and/or will face difficult people in their lives whether it's somebody at home, peers at school, etc. We all face those difficult people. The key is, how do we handle those difficult people.
 
Dealing with teenagers, it is important to relate everything biblically because everything we do as Christians is bible-based. But it's also important to put those biblical rules into lament, teenager terms. If you just throw a bunch of bible verses at them but with no real life applications, then you've lost that battle.
 
As Hunter and I dived into this lesson and preparing for it, it really taught us a few things. I want to share with ya'll the steps that we formulated in handling difficult people:
 
(Note: "Difficult people" can consist of friends, family members, trolls, employer/employees, etc. It's anybody that brings conflict and strife into your life.)
 
 
one// Love the person and forgive them.
 
Our first command from God is to love Him; the second is to love others. When a difficult person has brought frustration into your life, it's really hard to love them fully and it's even harder to forgive them if this isn't your first rodeo with them. Trust me, I have had those people walk in and out of my life and bringing havoc along with them. I had a student read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and we focused on key words. I wanted them to really read and understand this verse; it's not just some cute bible verse to spout out when your boo thang has made you so happy. It's God's command that love endures all things much like Jesus endured all things to save us from ourselves.
 
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
 
two// Confront the person. Don't retaliate.
 
I'm not sure how it is elsewhere, but it seems that the norm for down here in the south is to just ignore the problem, sweep it under the rug, and just "bless that person's heart." No, no, no. Deal with the problem head on using constructive words, not hurtful words. Always say how you felt rather than pointing fingers by using words like, "Well you did this and you did that and...." That just leads to defenses up instantly. And of course, use your words, not hands.
 
As far as the retaliation goes, that's just mean and juvenile. As I told my youth students, one of the best ways of "retaliation" to a person that has hurt you is to turn the other cheek. A person that thrives on drama and hurting others wants to know and see that they have hurt you; it's their drug of choice for lack of a better word. By turning the other cheek, forgiving that person, and continually loving them, you have become the bigger person and not stooped to that level. Trust me, I have witnessed this with my own personal life. It drives them mad!
 
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Romans12:18
 
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
Romans 12:19
 
three// If it continues, discontinue that friendship/relationship.
 
This is what threw not only my students through a loop, but me as well. Yes, we are called to love people. We are in no way, shape, or form called to be friends with everybody. We are to love our enemies, but we are to not associate with them. By living your life in love and bearing good fruits, that will reflect to all those around you, including your enemies. It is not your job to fix them, that's the Holy Spirit's job. By being your loving self, you have allowed that seed to already be planted for them to {hopefully} one day be convicted for their wrong doings. It may sound harsh but we cannot, as Christians, lose our focus on the mission we have been placed here to do.
 
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
1 Corinthians 15:33
 
Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.
Proverbs 22:24-25
 
Today, I'm so grateful for the openness of our youth students. They are real with us, they are honest with us, and it's the most refreshing thing I've had in a long time. They are the reason Hunter and I make that long drive on Wednesday nights. They are the reason we love what we do. Friends, I leave you with this bible verse that I had my students dwell on:
 
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10

Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey

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8 comments:

  1. The most important lesson I have ever learned is that you don't have to have a relationship with people who continue to hurt you, you just have to love them and pray for them. I thought that loving them meant still having a relationship and that is absolutely not true. In family situations, it makes things a little awkward, but it can be for the best. Love this girly!!! These kids are so lucky to have you and Hunter! Happy Monday sweetheart!

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  2. Love this post! So many great bible verses and lessons - you guys sound like amazing and thoughtful youth leaders! I wish someone had taught me lesson three at a younger age. I've figured it out now, and honestly it's probably one of the best things I've ever done - my heart is lighter when I'm surrounded by good people and not people who make my life difficult and who don't want to be friends with me. All in all, such a great message - thanks for sharing!!

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  3. Love this post! So many great bible verses and lessons - you guys sound like amazing and thoughtful youth leaders! I wish someone had taught me lesson three at a younger age. I've figured it out now, and honestly it's probably one of the best things I've ever done - my heart is lighter when I'm surrounded by good people and not people who make my life difficult and who don't want to be friends with me. All in all, such a great message - thanks for sharing!!

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  4. Such a relevant post for ALL of us since we will all deal with difficult people. I love your first point - "love the person" - it's TOTALLY up to us to love others even when it's really hard and difficult!

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  5. I think this is a lesson everyone can learn from, including myself. I have never been one to handle difficult people well, I am the walk away and ignore the problem type of person. I don't like confrontation. Now I have grown and while I will confront people about my feelings depending on the problem I pray for them, and I pray hard for them. I notice at that moment is when I find peace. I give it over to God and I ask Him what to do. I loved this post!

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  6. Number three is SO true. I think sometimes I'm afraid to severe ties with people because it's "not right", but if someone continuously hurts you after you've forgiven them, it's okay to let go!

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  7. I really struggle with this topic. Thankfully, my own friends and acquaintances are pretty solid. But, my husband's best friend since high school has been really toxic to both of our lives. He's like a bull in a China shop in more than one way, and he's caused strife in my husband's life and even our marriage in ways. I finally had enough and had to draw the line for my own sanity, which meant banning this friend from our house because I couldn't take him disrespecting us and our property when he's over, in addition to the personal issues I have with him (basically he walks all over my husband and abuses their friendship). That of course made him furious at me, and my husband feels torn between us. I hate that it came to this, but I felt like I needed to take a stand. In the meantime, it's been hard for me to watch my husband not be able to break ties either and is continually pulled down into this guy's web of despair. He's trying to be a good friend by being there for him, but I can tell it's not helping him in any way. I've actually wanted to write about this on the blog to work out my feelings about it but don't want to because that feels like it'd be crossing a line since he's a real person in our lives and I shouldn't air that dirty laundry for our friends to see. Thankfully, I feel safer commenting on other blogs about it, haha. Oops. Counselor Kelly, any tips for our situation? Sorry for this bombshell.

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