How to Deal with Difficult People

Managing Difficult Relationships

By Jill Briscoe

Face it, difficult people are decidedly different. Even people who love each other are going to have to learn to make their differences work. Stuart and I are partners in both ministry and marriage. Working together to raise a family to love and serve the Lord and working together in mission and the church have tested us. Both marriage and ministry have tested us because we are two very different people. We learn differently, have very different speaking styles, and plan and execute our lives differently. The differences surfaced shortly after the wedding and have continued unabated for nearly seventy years!

Early on in our married life, I remember Stuart’s wonderful way of preparing sermons. It seemed to come so naturally to him. He would wait until near the time he had to speak, concentrate on the subject at hand, and come up with a great talk and relevant illustrations that would hold people spellbound. I, on the other hand, would worry my way through reams of research and notes and start preparing months in advance. I would get in more and more of a muddle. In the end, I would give up and use one of Stuart’s sermons instead!

Once after my traveling husband had been out of town for months, he returned home and began to travel to different towns to speak. As he drove out of the driveway one Sunday, I felt myself going cold all over. The previous week, I had been to the particular church he was headed for and had used his very good sermon on Lazarus. Surely, I thought in a panic, surely, he wouldn’t preach the same sermon! After all, he has hundreds to choose from

I had a really miserable day praying hard that the Lord would block the word Lazarus completely out of my husband’s mind. When he walked into the house that night, I took one look at his face and asked, “Lazarus?”

“Lazarus!” he replied.“

Oh no,” I said, smiling and embarrassed.“

Jill,” Stuart said, “after I finished my sermon on Lazarus, this woman came barreling up to me and said, ‘Ooh, you stole your wife’s talk!”

That day my man sat me down and gave me some help in sermon preparation—something I had never had the opportunity to learn. I learned to develop my own style and study habits according to the way God had fashioned me. Since that fateful day, Stuart and I have traveled the world together, learning to make our differences work with greater impact for the kingdom. 

Does God have you in a marriage, work place, or ministry with someone the exact opposite of you? How are you rising to the challenge? Are you giving God a chance to accomplish what He had in mind when He yoked you together, or are you letting down the drawbridge to the enemy? You have to find a way to make your differences work for you and not against you. 

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