Dealing with Difficult People

by Joanna Pierce on November 10, 2016

Living today involves dealing with people—difficult people. This is why Paul wrote to the Philippian church; to teach them about the culture of the world compared to the culture of Christ, especially in the realm of relationships.

Unified Relationships

Paul noted while each relationship we’ll encounter in life will have its share of difficulties, we must live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18). A major cause of unhappiness in this life is strained relationships. Therefore, strong and unified relationships are the key ingredients for success and fulfillment in our natural and spiritual lives (Ecclesiastes 4:9–12).

We struggle to get along with others because everyone is different—there is great diversity. However, when we live for Christ, we’re called to abandon our values, characteristics, and ideologies, and adopt those of Christ. We should determine what’s not like Christ in our lives and get rid of it! This will help our relationships with other people—even the difficult ones.

5 Causes of Conflict

We reduce conflict and increase cooperation with others when we learn how to adopt everything in Jesus—being like-minded, having the same love, and being of one accord and mind (Philippians 2:2).

There are 5 enemies of the unity we’re supposed to pursue in our walk with Christ. Our goal should be to overcome them and see stronger relationships as a result.

Diffuse Competition

Comparison is a dangerous concept. We are to do nothing in strife (Philippians 2:3). Competition has no place in the church as we are all on the same team and in the same family. When there is disunity and conflict in the church, comparison can be the root cause along with competing desires. We must ensure that we’ve adopted Christ’s mindset and seek after His will and not our own (James 4:1–3). Our motives need to be correct!

Delete Conceit

We struggle with pride often in life. But, instead of desiring for others to see us, we should want others to see Jesus inside of us. Nothing should be done in vanity or personal desire (Philippians 2:3). Scripture notes how pride needs to be eliminated from our lives or it will cause destruction (Proverbs 8:13; 16:18; 29:23). Pride’s root cause is found in our hearts—our heart must be cleaned and aligned with Christ if we are to live peaceably with others (Mark 7:21–22). We are nothing without Christ in our lives (Galatians 6:3).

Decrease Criticism

Criticisms are meant to pull others down. Scripture calls us to consider others first and to lift them up (Philippians 2:3). In short, we are to be humble. Humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but to cease focus on any part of ourselves. When we’ve failed to understand humility, we have a tendency to focus on the flaws of others and think that we’re better. Our focus should never be on other’s faults or to assume a judgmental mindset (James 4:11–12). If we fail to value people the way God does, we’ll see conflict in our relationships.

Demonstrate Consideration

We should never be focused on our own needs and our own desires, but on meeting the needs of others (Philippians 2:4). Scripture tells us to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and we cannot effectively do this if our eyes (scope) is on ourselves! If we look at what others are facing we can see where God wants us to help and to minister. We cannot be insensitive to the needs of other people.

Develop Christ-Likeness

We are called to develop a life that’s like Christ. The mind that was in Jesus Christ should also be in us (Philippians 2:6). Jesus stripped Himself of every privilege owed to Him and assumed the guise of a servant. (Philippians 2:7–8). Jesus refused to demand any right and determined not to declare every person wrong, even though he had every right! Christ chose to love and to be a servant to all. Our goal should be to act like Jesus in every situation and in every relationship.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on November 9, 2016