March 29, 2011

Part 4-Extra Grace Required-Jesus on Difficult People

Sorry I missed a couple days in here...Life got quite busy for a bit there and having a few extra minutes at my computer just didn't happen.  Today our focus is going to be some of the "wrong" approaches we tend to take when faced with difficult people... Weigh in below peeps!

We often use the wrong approaches when dealing with difficult people. 

Sometimes we project truth, but withdraw grace.  We pump up our dominance, angrily take charge of a situation, and become a bull in a china shop.  We recklessly tear into a situation without gaining understanding or perspective.  We force our ideas, we use one-way communication, intimidate, interrupt, become belligerent, make demands, coerce, argue, and become closed-minded.  We in essence, bully people to act in conformity with our wishes.  The combination of truth and no grace can get quick results.  But in the end it doesn’t really resolve anything.  It polarizes people.  It exacerbates the problem.  It builds walls instead of bridges.  It leads to ongoing power struggles between whatever parties are involved.  In the upper left hand corner you can write "bully" or "jerk."

Postal syndrome
Another combination is when we withdraw truth and withdraw grace from a situation.  First, we take a passive, submissive, weak, or compliant posture out of fear or insecurity.  We don’t want to create problems.  We don’t want to lose our jobs.  We don’t want to get in a fight, or make waves, or become controversial, or be unpopular.  We become doormats and we let others walk on us.  But then at the same time we take a hostile, unresponsive posture toward a person out of anger or hatred.  We lick our wounds.  We tally their sins.  We suppress our true feelings and emotions.  We turn inward and become introspective.  We secretly plot their demise and wish evil on them.

Some people refer to this as the postal syndrome.  This is when a post office worker everyone thought of as "quiet" and a "nice worker" suddenly shows up at work with an automatic rifle and shoots his coworkers and boss.  There were a number of such occurrences years ago.  The postal syndrome is the result of a person letting his anger fester for years until he can take it no more.   Then he explodes in violence!  It's the profile of the shooters at Columbine and of the people involved in other school and workplace shootings.  So if you want, write "postal" in the lower left hand corner.

The other combination is that we project grace while withdrawing truth.  Instead of dealing with the problem we just let things happen.  We show the same weakness, compliance, and submissiveness as the last profile.  But instead of getting angry, we try to appease the aggressor.  We want to be accepted and loved.  We want to be popular and keep people happy.  So we meander and compromise while the whole world around us deteriorates.  We smooth over differences and conflict.  We value harmony over truth.  We enable.  We speak falsehoods to achieve artificial peace.  We seek to become one big happy family or country club.  In the lower right hand corner you can write "pals."

So just reflect on these various approaches to difficult people and situations.  What happens when we act like a jerk with difficult people?  Projecting truth at the expense of grace?  It provokes.  It exacerbates the problem.  It creates hostilities!  What happens when we go postal with difficult people?  Withdrawing truth and grace.  Burying our hurts.  Wishing evil on others.  It backfires.  It destroys us. What happens when we pal around with difficult people?  Projecting grace at the expense of truth?  It enables them.  We get taken advantage of.  What happens when we show Christ-like behavior with difficult people?

My final thought on today's post... I think in many ways I am naturally an "enabler" I will offer grace at times at the cost of truth..."walking a mile in someone else's shoes" and while there is good in that... I cannot sacrifice truth in the process... even though I may want to out of fear of being rejected...

So what is "the best approach" to dealing with difficult people...   tune in next time!

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