Difficult people frustrate us. On a good day, we can at least be kind. On bad days this seems impossible.
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
After being up all night long, suffering interrogation, jeering, beatings, group mocking; after being flogged and climbing the hill to Calvary, Jesus was nailed to the cross. After hanging there for quite some time, slowly dying in agony, one of the thieves hanging beside him was kind.
Most of us don’t have to figure out how to be nice after being beaten and slowly killed. Our problems are much more common.
People can be crazy. Sometimes they completely lose it on you. Sometimes your board thinks you are the root of all evil. Sometimes your staff just doesn’t understand what you are trying to do.
How do you love difficult people like Jesus does?
Are you ever tempted to just fake it? Smile to their face, go through the motions, and then walk away rolling your eyes or wishing you could punch something?
As we see when Jesus was hanging on the cross, he didn’t fake it. He was able to love genuinely even under extreme stress. You can too!
1. Get God’s perspective. The night before the end, Jesus spent time with the Father.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42
Jesus knew it would be difficult, but He took the time to submit his will, his rights, his perspective to God. Take time today to review those sticky parts of life. Are you trying to fix them yourself? Lay them before the Father and ask for His perspective.
2. Ask God to guard your mouth. Some of us are tempted to over-talk in stressful situations. This tends to create more issues than it helps. When Jesus stood before the religious leaders and then Pilate, he didn’t say a lot. He only answered the questions that were put to him. In difficult situations, as God to guard your mouth.
3. Look for the positive. Even under extreme stress, Jesus reached out to his mother and John, he was kind to the thief. In the midst of all that stress, he chose to look for and revel in the positive. You have people around you who really love you. Don’t let the negative crowd out the positive. Let yourself enjoy what is right in your world.
Being positive when everything else is negative seems impossible. But is for those moments (and so many others) that Jesus walked that road to the cross. He died, rose again and returned to heaven so that you could be empowered by the Holy Spirit to do just what He did, and even more. (John 14:12-14) In fact, Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:19 that the very power that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in those who believe.
Let Jesus empower you to see through His eyes, love through His heart and minister through His hands. As you do, He will give you new perspectives on those difficult people, and instead of living under the pressure, you will find yourself showing others the way out.