The other day David gave me a little booklet entitled How to Love Difficult People by William Smith. Its a book we’re reading for equip and he gave it to me because he was giving them to all the leaders as a thanks for serving. I didn’t think much of it. Free books. Awesome.
This book was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I’m sure I don’t even fully grasp it yet and by no means have I learned and put into practice all of its truths, but I did want to share it with you as it shouted to my heart and made me realize that there are changes that I need to make in my life.
I have a hard time loving difficult people. I usually just tend to avoid them and stop trying. The very first thing this book said to me is that I can be pretty difficult to love too! Yes! I can! I am hard to love too! But Jesus “loves me IN SPITE of what I am like…He makes you lovely, even though you didn’t start out lovely”. I was just talking to a friend about loving people this morning. I expressed that I was frustrated with a friend because they didn’t seem to love or support me as much as I loved and supported them. They weren’t being consistent or meeting my expectations. I thought I was being fair in my frustrations, but now I’m not so sure…Here are some thoughts and quotes from the book. I hope you find them both interesting and challenging.
1) Ask God to show you how hard you are to love and ask Him to forgive you
Your goal for other people should be “that they become all that God wants them to be…God has an established track record of being involved in his people’s lives for their good”. That made me think. Often I want to be involved in other’s lives for what they can do for me, or just for a bit of gossip or entertainment. How often do I desire to be involved in someone’s life just for their good? To benefit them?
2) Admit your own failings: to give glory to God and to give hope to others
3) Pursue others for their sake: begin by asking, “What does this person need?”
“Realizing that all your needs are truly met in Christ will keep you from expecting too much from others as you care for them.”
4) Spend time looking for what is positive in others and draw their attention to it. Often that shift in your attitude and approach to others has an important healing effect on strained relationships.
Ahhh I need #4 SO SO much. I only see the bad in people. I am so quick to point out their mistakes or bad decisions. I do believe this is almost the only reason that many of my relationships fail. People hurt me or fail me and I have no desire to even look for anything good in them, I just dismiss them. So much to think about.
“Loving, reciprocal relationships are gifts from God. They are neither earned nor deserved…When your desire for a response changes into a demand, it becomes an ugly grasping thing that actually ruins any chance of relationship.”
5) Remember Mark 12:31: Love your neighbor as yourself.
“When you start with love as your goal, you will be able to do good while avoiding the pitfalls of bitterness and anger.”
6) Ask God to encourage you. Romans 8:31 If God is for us, who can be against us?
“Ask him to fill you with joy in the inheritance you already have from him. As he answers that prayer, you will be able to genuinely love the difficult people in your life.”
So just a few thoughts from the book. A few ramblings. What do you think? Is it hard for you to love difficult people? And what are some things you have done to overcome that? I know that I definitely need to pray through these steps and begin to put them in motion. I know that with God’s forgiveness and help I can change my attitude towards certain people in my life.