Difficult People (by Mike Fox)

There is a lady at work who has a way with words.  She has the unique talent of making everything she says seem like an accusation or a put-down.  She is aggressive and often is involved in other people’s business.  Most of my interactions with her are unpleasant.  The big question for me is, “what do I do about this?”  Leaving the company isn’t an option…I like my job.  Hoping that she will leave the company is not very productive either.  I have considered that question and here’s what I’ve come up with…

In Duane Elmer’s book, “Cross-Cultural Servanthood”, Elmer says “…every act toward other human beings is either a sacred or profane act.  It either treats them with dignity or dehumanizes them.  We have no other choice.”

Then in C. S. Lewis’s sermon, “The Weight of Glory”, Lewis says, “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.  All day long we are in some degree, helping each other to one or the other of these destinations…There are no ordinary people.  You have never talked to a mere mortal…But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

Christ says it like this in Matt 25:40, “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'”

There are numerous accounts in the Bible where ‘bad’ people played important roles in God’s plan – Pharaoh, Judas, Rahab – to name a few.  Or ‘good’ people who made poor choices – Jonah, Adam & Eve, David.  By the very fact that their stories are included in the Bible we know that God certainly agrees with Lewis that “there are NO unimportant people”.  Not the kid with tattoos and multiple piercings or the rude co-worker.  Not the janitor or the waitress.  Not the criminal or the homeless.  Scripture is clear that Christ died for all people.  If we follow God’s commandments and Christ’s example, we cannot minimize anyone’s value.

So, what about the irritating lady at work?  I have come to understand that I can’t let her words control my actions.  I have challenged myself to treat her with respect.  Always.  No strings attached, just respect.

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