While at Teen Camp last week this came to my in-box.
COPING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE
From: Terry A. Boyd
Missionary to Uganda, East Africa
Different types of difficult people:
THE SHERMAN TANK is the aggressive, often hostile person who tries to roll over others. This pushy, manipulating individual may victimize you and then turn around and make you feel like a crook. When they do not get their way, they become loud and forceful until they have achieved the desired results.
SOLUTION: You don’t have to fight, but you do need to decide, “I am not going to allow this person to run over me.” You must stand up for yourself in a Christ like way. When they try to steam roll over you, be straightforward in truth and answer them in the negative. Do not allow them their way.
THE SPACE CADET is the one who acts and thinks as if he or she came from a different planet. Unable to listen to others, this difficult person lives in a self-created world. They operate on a different wavelength from those around them. They park where they’re not supposed to be. They show up where they don’t belong. They take charge when someone else has been designated to lead. If you expect emotional responsiveness from these persons, you will probably be hurt because you are not going to receive it.
SOLUTION: The best way to get along with space cadets is to make up your mind not to let them drive you bonkers. To accept a person as being from a different planet means recognizing that he or she is probably not going to change. Ultimately, you are not responsible for another’s actions and attitudes.
THE VOCANO is those people who are either exploding or building up steam to prepare for the next explosion. People who live with them walk around on pins and needles, never knowing when another eruption is coming. Volcanoes often get their way by intimidating others. Wherever they are, they generate tension.
SOLUTION: When they come in like a raging bull, stand there and listen to them. Listen for a long time without saying a word, except to agree with what he is saying. Give him time to run down. When he has gotten his story pretty well out, ask him to tell it one more time, so that you are sure to understand what happened. The next time he tells it, he will speak in a normal voice. Proverbs 15:1.
THE SPOILER is a person who complains chronically. No matter what happens, the spoiler grumbles and acts negative. You cannot satisfy spoilers because they never feel satisfied with themselves. No matter what you do, they won’t be pleased.
SOLUTION: Recognize this difficult person for being a model of negative thinking that you do not want to adopt. Instead, choose and cultivate your own positive mental attitude. Phil. 4:8.
THE WET BLANKET is no matter what is proposed, the wet blanket automatically responds, “It can’t be done,” “It won’t work,” “It’s never been done before,” or “It’s impossible.” This difficult person is the classic impossible thinker.
SOLUTION: Allow this person the right to be sour and pessimistic. But don’t allow that attitude to dampen your enthusiasm for life. Don’t surrender your leadership; continue to be a possibility thinker. Matthew 19:26; 2 Cor. 1:20
THE GARBAGE COLLECTOR is one who loves to rehearse and replay the injuries they have suffered at the hands of other people. They nurse their wounds and hold onto their wounded spirits. They fixate on negative emotions. Like spreading manure around, they stink up everything. These persons maintain a cover, often thin and transparent, from behind which they take potshots like a sniper. Their weapons are rocks hidden in snowballs: Garbage collectors are basically too cowardly to follow through on their feelings.
SOLUTION: If their behavior continues in a disruptive manner that harms other people, you may need to confront them in front of other mature people. Ask direct questions and hold them to an answer: “Is this how you feel?” “Is this what you’d like to say?” “Do you believe this, or don’t you?” Pin them down and do not let them squirm out of taking responsibility for their emotions. As with the spoiler and the wet blanket, do not allow the garbage collector’s ill feelings to restrict your attitude and outlook.
THE USER is to include alcoholics, drug addicts, compulsive gamblers, emotionally dependent adults, and spoiled children. They will do anything to manipulate you into providing what they want when they want it. If you’re not careful, they will make you their slave.
SOLUTION: Sometimes it’s best for them to suffer for long periods of time so that they can learn on their own. You cannot always be there to hold their hand. You must apply a tough-love principle and set limits that keep you from being used and abused.
THE EMOTIONALLY HANDICAPPED is some people have been so deeply wounded emotionally that they have developed a handicap when it comes to relating to others. You may show love and kindness, which they may simply ignore. Or they may go to the other extreme and attack you. Often the emotionally handicapped are simply good people who have been battered and scarred emotionally. In many cases your biggest challenge will be to look beyond their unsatisfying behaviors, see the pain in their eyes, and sense the woundedness in their spirits.
SOLUTION: By identifying the areas of need in the difficult people you serve, you can respond in ways that lead toward wholeness and maturity—for you and for them. Let God’s love and wisdom is yours as you develop successful strategies for dealing with the irregular persons in your church.
Pastor Mike Walls
Freedom Baptist Church Smithfield, NC
King James Bible church