3 Reminders From The Rough Side of Ministry

How do you deal with difficult people?

We all experience what I call “sandpaper” people in our life. Each one comes with a different “grit” but their purpose in our life is the same, to smooth out our rough edges. Here are 3 reminders for each of us when the edges of our attitude need a little sanding.

Reminder Number 1:

Develop Thick Skin and a Sensitive Heart

The phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” is simply not true. Words do hurt and sometimes worse than a broken bone. The Bible says, “Our tongues get out of control. They are restless and evil, and always spreading deadly poison.” James 3:6 CEV.

When reckless words come our way they are usually hurled by someone who has been hurt or offended either by you or someone else. Remember, “hurt people…hurt people.” We can let our thick skin handle some of the criticism while our sensitive heart handles the real issue. I guess another way to say it is “have a magnet in your heart and a compass in your head.”

Finally, everyone must live in harmony, be sympathetic, love each other, have compassion, and be humble. 1 Peter 3:8 GWORD  

Reminder Number 2:

Respond Don’t React

Maintain a 24 hour rule. For example, when you receive an email that has the appearance of negativity, wait 24 hours before responding. The same is true for texts or any other social media. Create some space between the negative moment and your next message.

I know that sometimes my emotions hijack my fingers and in one quick moment I have written a slightly sarcastic narrative and hit the send button. I have reacted out of an emotional mind, not a wise one.

If I would have applied the 24 hour rule, I would have responded differently. After 24 hours my emotions have returned to normal and I can write a more appropriate and less emotional response. Less smack, Less attack, stay on track. Wait 24 hours.

But if you keep attacking each other like wild animals, you had better watch out or you will destroy yourselves. Galatians 5:15 CEV

Reminder Number 3:

Outlast Your Critics    

Occasionally there will be a few negative people that have the special gift of tenacity. They hang around lingering for a moment to tell you what you did wrong, how it could have been done better or why you are, or were, the wrong person for the job.

If you have developed thick skin and a sensitive heart and you have done your absolute best respond and not react then simply outlast them. Be resilient! Take courage, be strong, hang n there!

Honestly, I think there are about 15 people that drive around in a van from church to church spreading their negativity like they are earning an award for it. They thrive on pointing out your mistakes, correcting your path and adjusting your perspective. The goal is to simply outlast those who are overly critical. Eventually they will get back in the van and head over to another church.

In every way we’re troubled, but we aren’t crushed by our troubles. We’re frustrated, but we don’t give up. 2 Corinthians 4:8 GWORD

Question: Are you experiencing the “rub” of a sandpaper person today? How are you responding?