Dealing with Difficult People – Part 4

There are three key strategies in dealing with difficult people:




We discussed Listen and Learn. In this post we will explore the third strategy…Love.

Here is one of the tougher verses in the Bible. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. John 13:34 (NLT)

Key word here is “Commandment.” Loving difficult people is not a choice, it is a command. So we should make the most of it.

Typically when we think about “loving others,” we thinks about:

  • Forgiving when necessary
  • Showing kindness
  • Showing patience
  • Having empathy
  • Showing compassion
  • Sacrifice

And that list could go on for quite some time. But as it relates to dealing with difficult people, love looks like this:

  • Being truthful
  • Offering guidance
  • Being fair, but firm

It is very similar to the way you love your kids at home. You love them enough that you are willing to have the difficult or even painful conversation if it will help them.

Here is a story that illustrates Listen, Learn and Love:

Here at Saddleback we have a beautiful campus, but it is difficult to secure because we don’t have hallways and the buildings on our campus are spread out. So, in order to secure the Children’s area, we don’t allow anyone to “hang out” around the Children’s building unless they have been through an approval process and are displaying the necessary credentials.

One Sunday, a dad was watching his daughter play in the playground. I approached him and explained our security policy and kindly asked him to wait in another area. He wasn’t very happy. He stepped towards me and informed me that he would stand there and watch his daughter and there was nothing that I, nor anyone else, could do to stop him. In that moment I had to tell myself to LISTEN, LEARN and LOVE.

LISTEN – I let him tell me why he was not going to move and did not respond immediately. This slowed me down and showed that I care.

LEARN – I tried to understand how he was feeling. I put myself in his shoes.

LOVE – Then, with fairness, I firmly offered guidance on why it was necessary for him to leave.

My response was something like this…“I understand and don’t blame you for being unsettled when someone you don’t know says you can’t stand here and watch your daughter play on the playground. However, if I let you stand here I have to let any parent stand here. It’s possible that the parent of one of these kids could be a pedophile and could be watching your daughter as well. Our number one value in Saddleback Kids is Safety and Security and we want you to feel safe when you leave your daughter with us. Unfortunately, I can’t know every parent at our church and, for that reason, we only allow people we do know and people we have approved to be around your daughter. That’s why I can’t have you stand here and watch your daughter on the playground.” The man then stuck out his hand and said “Thanks, I get it now.”

It is not perfect and it is by no means a guarantee, but when you Listen, Learn and Love, you have a better chance of situations like this ending well.

And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:14-15

You will encounter people like this throughout the week and weekend. When we start to feel the frustration rise, just REMEMBER to Listen, Learn and Love…IT WORKS.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: