Go into any bookstore, secular or Christian, mortar and bricks or online, and you will find at least a couple book titles that offer to teach you how to get along with difficult people. There is a management training organization which holds seminars across the country, year after year, to teach managers how to deal with the difficult people at work. Evidently there are enough difficult people out there to make a steady revenue stream available to those who write these books and teach these seminars.
How come there are no books and courses to teach the difficult people how to stop being difficult?
I don’t suppose there would be any market. After all, I am not the difficult one, it’s the people around me who are difficult. And even if I do come across as a little difficult at times, it’s only because I have to constantly put up with all these other people who are causing me so much difficulty.
There is a deeper problem, how can you teach someone not to be difficult? There is a form of courtesy and good manners that can be taught, and should be taught much more than it is. Yet the best that good manners can do is produce a person who is difficult in a very courteous way.
I believe most of my readers are Christians, so you already know the answer. It is not within the scope of human ability to cease being difficult, it has to come from God. It is found in the changed heart produced by the new birth and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace (James 3:17-18).
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the difficult people around me could be like that? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could be like that?
Ah, there is the rub. How can it be that others still find me difficult to get along with if I am a Christian? It must be that I am somehow quenching the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.
How do I look at other people? Can I see the life of Christ in fellow believers, despite the outward quirks that I find annoying? Which do I see more clearly? Which do I look for?
Can I see every person that I meet, saved or unsaved, as being created in the image of God, despite the ways this image may be distorted? Do I see the unsaved as being someone for whom Christ died? Do I believe they are part of the “all men, everywhere” whom God is calling to repentance today?
Finally, I am left to wonder if the thing that makes me difficult to others isn’t directly related to what I am seeing when I look at them. Lord, may I have the grace to see what you are seeing.