Summary: Dealing with Difficult people God’s way.
Dealing With Difficult People
Strategies From Genesis
Many Christian writers and counselors will give you a specific course of action to use on each type of difficult person. I will share common types of difficult behavior in a few minutes, but I want to lay a proper foundation first. My approach to dealing with difficult behavior is to pray and ask God how to deal with it before you do anything else. I believe God will show you how to deal with the difficult person, although his answer may come indirectly through another source. In other words, His answer may come as an impression to your mind, or it may come while reading the Bible or talking to a friend about the situation. What I am trying to get you to see is there are no pat answered to every difficult situation just because the difficult behavior is the same. Moses found out that using the same method (the staff) to get water which worked the last time caused him to ignore God’s method and forfeit his place in Canaan (Exodus 17:1-6; Numbers 20:1-12). There is a danger of assuming because a certain method worked the last time that it will work again. However, if we are going to get the right method from God we need to look at some of the methods He used in the past. It may surprise you to find out how many different ways God ordained. You also need to understand the way much Old Testament teaching was done, in order to glean insights from Genesis. Often truths were taught in stories, instead of direct principles like the ten commandments. Therefore, the stories told in Genesis are not just historical accounts, nor are they nice stories to tell our children at bedtime. Instead of saying, "All things work together for good for those who love God..." (Romans 8:28), the Old Testament writer would tell the story of Joseph. So let’s look into the lives of the people of Genesis, and see what methods we can discover for dealing with difficult people in our lives.
I REMOVAL FROM THE SITUATION Genesis 21:8-21
If you remember last week’s message from the sixteenth chapter of Genesis, you will recall the conflict between Sari and Hagar. On that occasion Sari treated Hagar very badly after she had conceived, and so she ran away. At that time God told Hagar to go back and submit to Sari’s authority over her. God called Hagar and Sari to practice FORBEARANCE for fifteen to twenty years. The New Testament calls it "bearing with one another" (Ephesians 4:2). Sometimes God calls us to just put up with a difficult person. In this chapter about fifteen to twenty-five years have passed, and now Sarah wants to run Hagar off again because Ishmael was making fun of Isaac. This time God told Abraham to go ahead and send Hagar and Ishmael away forever (v 12). See it wasn’t the same response God had ordered the last time. God promised Abraham He would take care of Hagar and his son. Although Hagar was difficult and she had to be removed from the family God promised He would watch out for her, and the next few verses proved He did (v I4-20). There may be times when God encourages us to remove the difficult person from our lives, but that doesn’t mean He had given up on them. Sometimes it is for the good of all concerned. For some removal doesn’t sound very Christlike, and it certainly doesn’t sound like God would ever endorse it. However, in this case he commanded it. In 1 Corinthians chapter five the apostle Paul told the church to cast out an immoral believer out of the church. He goes on to explain that this is the best thing to do for everyone concerned. There may be situations where a child has gotten so out of control they have to be removed from the home by the parents. If a spouse is physically abusive, you may have to press charges and have them
removed from the home. If you’re an employer, you may have to remove a difficult person from the workplace by firing them or laying them off. This is teaching God sometimes may tell you to remove a person over which you have responsibility.
II FLEE FROM THE SITUATION (Genesis 27:41-46)
This passage is right in the middle of the Jacob and Esau saga. Jacob had stolen the birthright from Esau through manipulation earlier, and now though deceit he had stolen the blessing from his father Esau was supposed to get. Esau has made no secret of the fact he is going to kill Jacob just as soon as their father Isaac passes away. This is a situation where both Esau and Jacob are very difficult. It is certain Esau’s plan to kill the difficult person is not from God, and so let’s look at Jacob’s plan. It is simple, FLEE! If you are not in a position to do anything else, you may be called upon by God to flee the situation. This is often a natural response of some people, but it is not always God’s desire for them. I believe this was God’s plan for Jacob, because God met him on the first night of his travels in a dream (28:10-22). Jacob’s son Joseph would also have to use this particular method in the house of Potiphar (39:7-18). You know the story how Potiphar’s wife tried again and again to seduce Joseph, but he constantly refused her ( v. 8-9). One day she caught him in the house all alone, and she grabbed his cloak and would take no for an answer. Joseph left the cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. I believe this also was God’s way for dealing with this particular person. Joseph had tried to reason with her many times before, but this time he had to just get out of there. It is very likely that Joseph didn’t feel he could remain in the house and resist her any longer.