Loving the Difficult People in Your Life

By: Jill Briscoe

You will be able to deal more effectively with a difficult person if you believe that God has put the other person in your life, your marriage or even on your team. We are not to mess with the call of God in someone else’s life. He has chosen this sometimes irritating counterpart not to annoy you or make your job more difficult but rather to match personalities up to enhance the overall outcome of His purposes. I am not free to pray as the little boy prayed, “Please God, send Derek Smith to another camp next year!”

Not only has He put “Derek Smith in my life, He may have put him there deliberately because He has something very special for Derek Smith to do for Him and for me! God made this person just like he or she is, and He didn’t consult me! I am talking about things that need to be addressed in another’s life that have nothing to do with personality. People need to face up to their sin and bad habits and confront them. But we should do the same with our own bad attitudes.

An assistant pastor’s wife wrote and told me, “I can hardly talk to the senior pastor’s wife. I think she hates me. We’re so different. It’s not just a generational thing.”

What a sad letter! But I would have to tell you this is not at all uncommon. The fact that it is not uncommon, however, does not mean the situation should be allowed to go from bad to worse. Someone—like you or me!—should try to intervene. The problem is, people can be so annoyed with their opposite that they decide the best thing to do is opt out and start over with someone new. Perhaps if I found another person more like me, I would be better off, they think. But God is not into “cloning.” He is not counter-parting!

I thank God for the difficult people in my life, for I have discovered that they are not always difficult. Many times as I have gotten to know them, they have proved to be different and difficult. I thank God for their grace in putting up with me! As I am driven to pray about personality conflicts, I hear the Lord reminding me that He has deliberately brought His children into my orbit for good reasons. Sometimes He will tell me those reasons, and sometimes He won’t. He nudges me by His Spirit to look for ways to elevate others—difficult others or different others, people who choose to do and say things in a very different way from the way I would do or say them. I talk sternly to myself and tell myself, “This is really none of my business. This is God’s business, and I can rest assured that He knows exactly what He is doing.”

Chip, chip, chip goes the chisel. Most times I can say, “Chip away, Lord. Make me like You. And help me love others like You do!” 

Jill Briscoe is the Founder and Executive Editor of  Just Between Us magazine and ministry.