“Don’t waste your valuable time with people that are not adding to your growth. Your destiny is too important.”
I have read similar quotes from various authors and speakers so I won’t bother identifying the source beyond assuring you I’ve heard such comments from so-called motivational speakers or life coaches who claim to be Christ-followers.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the importance of boundaries; I have difficult people in my life. However, the more I read quotes such as this one, the more I become uncomfortable. I may have never verbalised this sentiment, but I’ve felt it. “If I could only get rid of so-and-so in my life, then I could get somewhere!” When I do hear such sentiment verbalised, my spirit winces.
“I just can’t be bothered to deal with so-and-so today because I am in my happy place, and I don’t want to be disturbed.”
Paul’s response to such talk is rather simple. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility, count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4
“If only I can ditch these people! My marvellous life is in my reach as long as I have just the right group of people around me to make it happen.”
Again, Paul writes, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
I find my destiny in Christ Jesus. If I fret that my destiny will not be fulfilled because I have one too many difficult-to-deal-with people in my life, then there is trouble in River City.
Romans 8:38-39 – “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Just what is a healthy boundary, and what is selfishness? Have I been guilty of whitewashing selfishness with a fresh coat of boundary-script occasionally? If I am to be truthful, I have to say, “Yes”.
So, how did Jesus deal with difficult people? He ate in their homes. Yes, Jesus went out of his way to spend time with Pharisees by entering into an honest dialogue with them. Consider Judas. Jesus discipled him for three years although He knew Judas would betray him. Jesus had his fair share of cranky, difficult disciples who seemed to go out of their way to be unreasonable. There were even power-hungry men in his inner circle.
There were times Jesus felt drained by those who consistently challenged every word he spoke. How did he cope? Not by pushing people away. Jesus spoke the truth in love and let them decide if they wanted to hang around. Jesus spent copious amounts of time in communion and rest with His Father, reminding himself of his mission and his purpose.
Finding balance is such a tricky thing, isn’t it? We learn from life-affirming acquaintances, but we also learn much by relating to difficult people. If you continuously kick people to the curb just because they don’t fit into your plan, you are missing an essential part of the puzzle.
Are there people to whom we need to say, “The ball is in your court”? Yes, of course! We spoke the truth in love; now we wait for their response to the healthy boundaries we put in place for their safety and our own. Until they respond by either walking away or by stepping forward in honest dialogue, we need to keep boundaries in place. However, we can’t go around nailing the doors and windows of our hearts shut because of our inability to cope with difficult people. Eventually, we’ll find ourselves trapped in a prison we built from the bricks of self-interest.
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All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.
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Until Next Week,
©2019 Katherine Walden
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