Joel Osteen - Dealing With Difficult People
I want to talk to you today about Dealing With Difficult People. I was going to title this "Dealing with Friends, Family and Co-workers", because someone will be difficult. Someone will get on your nerves. A co-worker that's jealous, a neighbor that's rude, a relative that is not for you. How you handle difficult people will determine how high you will go. If you treat them the way they treat you, then you'll get stuck. If they're disrespectful, and you're disrespectful back, that will keep you from going further.
The scripture says (Romans 12:21), "You overcome evil with good". You never overcome disrespect with more disrespect. You never get ahead doing to others what they did to you. That's a test of your character. God is seeing what he can trust you with. Will you be the bigger person and overlook the insult? Will you stay on the high road and not get baited into conflict? You only have so much emotional energy each day, it's not an unlimited supply, it takes a lot of energy to get upset, to live offended, to think about what they said, try to straighten them out. That's energy you need for your dreams, to pursue your goals, to enjoy your family. Don't spend it on things that don't matter. You can't control how everyone treats you, but you can control how you respond. When someone is rude, you don't have to get upset. When they cut you off in traffic, that doesn't have to sour your morning. When a co-worker leaves you out, you can't control that, but you can stay in peace, knowing that God is fighting your battles.
When you take the high road you'll not only enjoy your life more, but you're showing God he can trust you with more influence, with more favor. Don't go the next 20 years letting the same things upset you, same co-worker get on your nerves, the same grumpy relative steal your joy. They may not change, but here's the key: you can change. Sometimes we've trained ourselves to respond a certain way. "They say this, I'm gonna get upset. She leaves me out, it's gonna ruin my night. If your crazy uncle makes fun of me again, I'm gonna tell him off". The problem is you're letting them control you. If they perform a certain way it's going to sour your day. Why don't you take back the controls?
Jesus said (John 14:27), "Stop allowing yourself to get upset". Someone can't make you get upset, you have to give them permission to upset you. You have to make the choice, "I'm offended. I'm discouraged. I'm sour". Some people know exactly what buttons they can push to get you bent out of shape. Next time they push those buttons, just smile and say, "Not this time, I'm staying in peace. I'm going to enjoy this day. If someone is rude, disrespectful, always finding fault, they have issues that they haven't dealt with. They end up with bitterness, insecurity, anger bottled up on the inside. Sometimes that poison will try to get off on you. You have to stay on the offensive. "They may be rude, but I'm not taking the bait. I'm staying calm. I'm going to be respectful despite how they treat me. My boss celebrates everyone except me, he gives others credit for what I've done, but I'm not going to live sour, I'm not working under people, I'm working unto God".
"Well, Joel, if I always take the high road, people will take advantage of me, I'll look weak, I have to stand up for myself". You'll never go wrong by taking the high road. You'll never lose out when you're kind, when you overlook an offense, when you choose to stay in peace. The scripture says, "When you're good to your enemies it's like keeping coals of fire on their head". You would think if we would treat our enemies the way they treated us, that would be good payback. "They talk bad about me, I'll talk bad about them. If they leave me out, I'm going to leave them out. If she's rude to me, two can play at that game, I'll be rude to her". That feels good to our flesh to let them have it, but you never come out ahead by doing to others what they did to you. The real way you see favor, increase, is you bless your enemies. When you're good to those that are not good to you, not only will you rise higher, but God will deal with those who are not treating you right. He knows how to heap coals of fire, how to put pressure, how to make them think differently about you.
Several times in the scripture it refers to the believer as an eagle. Isaiah said, "You will mount up with wings like an eagle". It's significant that God chose an eagle. An eagle can fly higher than just about any other bird. They've spotted eagles at thirty thousand feet in the air, that's where the big jets fly. I read where a crow is a natural pest to the eagle. Although the eagle is bigger and stronger, the crow is more agile, it can turn quicker, maneuver faster. And sometimes to annoy the eagle, the crow will follow right behind the eagle, just pestering it, causing it trouble. The eagle could turn around, try to fight, think "I'm bigger than this crow, I'm going to show him who I am". Instead, when the eagle is tired of dealing with the crow, doesn't try to outmaneuver it, moving left and right, it simply starts flying higher and higher. The crow can't go where the eagle can go. It can't handle that high of an altitude, eventually it will fall away.
In life there will always be some crows. You may work with crows, you may have neighbors that are crows, you may be sitting by a crow. Just laugh and they won't know it, but there will always be people that can get on your nerves. They feel like it's their calling in life to annoy you, irritate you, push your buttons. That will continue to happen as long as you're staying down at their level. You'll get upset, be baited into conflict, be offended. You have to realize: you're an eagle. The way you get rid of crows is not engaging with them, but by going up higher. Don't pay attention to what they're saying, quit reading the negative comments, don't let the offense get down in your spirit. If you do, you'll get drawn into conflict. You're an eagle, you're not supposed to be fighting with crows. You're not supposed to be upset with some chickens, pecking around, dealing with things that don't matter. Quit being frustrated by the turkeys, people that don't understand you, people that make a lot of noise, trying to steal your peace. Those are distractions to try to get you off course, wasting time and energy that you need to pursue your goals.
You can't stop the crows from crawling. You can't stop the chickens from pecking, the rude people from being rude, the offense, the disrespect, the grouchy neighbor, the critical co-worker, but you can spread your wings and rise higher. You don't have to get engaged in those petty things that don't matter. You were created to soar, designed to do big things, to leave your Mark, to be a history maker. Don't waste your valuable time dealing with crows. There will always be people that don't understand you, people that are not fought for you, that will try to hinder your calling. And sure, they'll say things that are hurtful, try to make you look bad, put you at a disadvantage. And human nature is to get in there and fight, straighten them out, show them what they're made of. Don't take that bait, that's a distraction. They don't control your destiny, they didn't breathe life into you, they didn't choose you before you were formed in your mother's womb. What they say cannot stop your purpose. Don't give it the time of day, ignore it and move forward. You know what will happen? The crows will fall away. They can't hang with you. They can't go where you're going, God put greatness in you.
There's a lot of negative chatter these days with all the social media, and different ways to communicate, people can express their opinion so easily and say things that are derogatory, try to discredit you. The only power that has is the power you give it. If you let it get in you, you start dwelling on it, that will poison your spirit. Over time it will change who you are, you'll become defensive, try to prove to people that you're okay, you're not what they said. You're giving them your power. You're engaging in a battle that you're not supposed to be in. The crows are going to crow, make a lot of noise. The chickens are going to peck, it's going to be gossip, jealousy, criticism. People will have plenty opinions about how you're to run your life, what you should wear, how you should raise your kids, how you should spend your money, what you're doing wrong. Successful people are so focused on their goals, their dreams, they don't pay attention to the crows. Quit letting that poison get in you, you have a destiny to fulfill. God has given us the gift of life. He could have chosen anyone to be here at this time, but he chose you and me. Let's make the most of each day. How much time are you wasting offended, upset, letting difficult people steal your joy? It's time to get focused, tune out all the negative, and run your race with purpose.
2 kings 2, Elisha was traveling from Jericho to Bethel. As he was walking down the road these young men came out and started making fun of him because he was bald. They said in verse 23, "Get out of here you baldhead", mocking him again and again, it's in the scripture, "Go away baldy". Elisha could have been upset, offended. He and his men were bigger, stronger, he could have gone over there, straightened them out. He didn't take the bait. He said in effect, "I'm going to stay in peace and let God fight my battles". He understood they were just a bunch of crows, making a lot of noise, trying to get him distracted, engaged in battles that didn't matter. He kept on walking. As he went on (2 kings 2:24), "Two bears came out of the woods suddenly and mauled all 42 boys that were making fun of him". When you let God be your vindicator, he'll take care of who's trying to stop you. He'll deal with the disrespect, the jealousy, the people that are doing you wrong. You're an eagle, don't come down and fight battles that don't matter. You keep soaring, keep doing the right thing, and God will deal with the crows, the chickens, the turkeys. All that negative chatter it's just noise, it can't stop your destiny.
Psalm 45:7 says, "God has anointed us with the oil of joy". When you walk in your anointing, there's an oil on you to where nothing can stick. You're like a teflon pan. Disrespect will come, people will say hurtful things, the good news is: you have a no stick anointing, you can let that go and it'll slide right off of you, not have any effect. That co-worker leaves you out, plays politics. You could be offended, upset, but you have the oil of joy, you just let it go. Somebody's rude to you, jumps down your throat, you could be rude back to them, give them a piece of your mind, but like that teflon pan, it slides right off of you, you go on and enjoy your day. You weren't created to hold on to things, offense, disrespect, hurtful words. Next time something happens it could upset you, instead of responding the same way, try a different approach, "Father, thank you that I've been anointed with the oil of joy. I'm going to stay in peace. I'm going to focus on my goals, knowing that you are fighting my battles".
You can't get rid of all the difficult people, but if you'll respond the right way, they won't keep you from having a blessed, productive, favor-filled day. Are you letting things upset you that don't have to upset you? Are you giving away your power, letting what people do determine whether or not you're going to be happy? You need to take control back of your happiness. Quit putting it in someone else's hands. If you're counting on everyone to treat you nice, to be kind, say good things, then you're going to be happy, you're giving them your power. You control your happiness. You have to make up your mind: no matter what people do, no matter what they say, how they treat you, they're not going to steal your joy. They may not want to be happy, but they shouldn't keep you from being happy. They may be rude, angry, disrespectful, but you can't let their issues sour your day. Be like that teflon pan, let it bounce off of you, and enjoy your day in spite of what they did.
I was at an electronics store to buy some parts for our television equipment. This was back when I worked in the production behind the scenes here at Lakewood. The parts were in the back, the staff had to go get them for you. I had done this many times before. The man at the counter was on the phone. He wasn't in any hurry to get off, he could see me standing there, but he talked about 15 minutes, I waited patiently, eventually he hung up. I thought he would acknowledge me and see what I needed, but he never looked up. Finally I asked if he could help me. You would have thought I had just insulted him, he was so gruff, very aggravated, he said "What do you need"? I asked him for this certain part, he looked at it and said "We don't carry it. We never have". I told him how I'd purchased it there many times before. His face got real red, smoke started coming out of his ears, he looked like he's about to explode. He used several curse words and said, "I told you, I don't have it. Now, don't ask me for it again".
I wanted to say, "I'll ask you as many times as I feel like it. I'll call you in the middle of the night if I want to", but he was bigger than me. So I just smiled and said, "No problem. Have a nice day". Didn't mean it, but at least I said it. I had to make this choice: was I going to let his poison get in me, pollute my day, sour my attitude, spend my emotional energy upset, aggravated? Or was I going to be a teflon pan, have that no stick anointing, let all that disrespect, anger, poison slide right off. I decided to let it go. You can't stop people from dumping their garbage, but you can keep your lid on. You don't have to let all their trash get in you.
Sometimes we have unrealistic expectations. We think we'll have a good day, as long as we don't encounter any rude people, as long as our family says nice things, as long as our co-workers perform perfectly, then we'll stay in peace. But that's not reality. Difficult people are all around. There will be someone that can steal your joy, get you offended, leave you out, say something that's not true. The key is not trying to avoid it, it's to handle it the right way. Don't take the bait, don't let the offense stay, don't dwell on the negative comments, keep yourself oiled up to where you don't let anything stick. This is how you live happy not by avoiding difficult people, but by not taking their garbage, but not responding to them the way they treated you. It's by being an eagle, by rising higher than the offense, the hurt, the jealousy. When God can trust you to do the right thing when it's hard, there's no limit to how high he will take you.
There was a man walking down the street with his friend to get a newspaper. When they arrived at the corner store, the clerk in the small newsstand was very cold, inconsiderate, not friendly at all. The man bought the paper and said very politely, "I hope you have a great day". As they walked away, his friend said "Is that clerk always that rude"? The man said, "Yes, every morning". He said, "Well, are you always that nice to him"? The man said, "Yes, every morning". The friend looked kind of puzzled and said "Why"? The men said, "I've made up my mind, I'm not going to let one person ruin my day".
Like him you have to make up your mind, you're not going to let one comment ruin your day. You're not going to let a disrespectful co-worker, a classmate that's making fun of you, a driver that cuts you off in traffic to sour your day. Decide ahead of time, "I'm putting on the oil of joy. Whatever comes my way: negative comments, disrespect, rude people, that's going to slide right off of me". How much more will you enjoy your life if you'll have this no-stick anointing? You can't control what people do. They want to be rude, offensive, hard to get along with - that's their choice, but you can control how you respond. The most powerful thing you can do is let it slide right off, don't give it the time of day, don't think about it anymore, don't relive it, don't call your friends and tell them what they said.
Keep your heart pure. Save your emotional energy to live this day to the full, to pursue your dreams, to love your family, to be good to your neighbors. When someone is rude, when they're offensive, don't take it personally: it's not about you, it's their own struggles on the inside. They don't like themselves, that's why they don't like you. They're upset over things that have nothing to do with you, you just happen to enter their story when they're blowing off steam. Stay oiled up and move on. None of that will stop your destiny, unless you get distracted and start fighting battles that don't matter, trying to pay people back instead of letting God be your vindicator.
This is what David did. 1 Samuel chapter 25, he and his men had been out living in the countryside on the run from king Saul. A man named Nabel lived in the city of Carmel not far from David. He was very wealthy, with thousands of sheep and goats, but verse 3 says, "Nabel was a mean man. He was dishonest and hard to get along with". David and his men had been protecting Nabel's property by just being there. They were very powerful, they could have taken the flocks, got rid of his shepherds, but they were good to Nabel. It was time for shearing the sheep, the harvest season, so David sent messengers to Nabel asking for food, since he had been protecting their family and flocks. You would think Nabel would be grateful, he had these men watching after him, but Nabel was very rude. He said: who is this man David? I never asked him to do anything for me, I don't owe him a penny, tell him to forget it, I'm not going to give him anything.
When David heard that, it set him off. He didn't think about the oil of joy, he didn't sing the Psalm he wrote, "This is the day the Lord has made, I'm going to be glad". He was furious. He told his men "Pack up, we're going to go take care of Nabel". He said, "As surely as I live, not one of Nabel's family members will be alive by this time tomorrow". David was offended, angry, he wasn't going to let Nabel get away with insulting him. There are times we're supposed to fight, we need to take action, David fought Goliath, but you have to make sure that battle is between you and your destiny. If not, it's a distraction. David was so brought up in his emotions, he didn't realize this wasn't a battle he was supposed to fight. How many times are we fighting battles because like David we're offended, they upset us, they did us wrong, but that wasn't a battle between us and our destiny, it was just our flesh getting riled up, wanting to take matters into our own hands. We were supposed to let it slide off, not dwell on it, trust God to be our vindicator.
Here's how merciful God is: David was headed toward Nabel's house, full speed ahead, about to make a mistake that would hinder his destiny. Nabel's wife was a lady named Abigail, she was a wise woman. She loaded up 200 loaves of bread, 200 bottles of wine, 500 cakes and headed out to meet David. When she saw him she bowed down low, and said, "David my husband is a fool. He's hard-headed", she spoke the truth, "He's hard-headed, hot-tempered, dishonest. He shouldn't have insulted you. I brought you these gifts hoping that you'll forgive him". She went on to say, "David you are called to be the king of Israel, why would you even fight with this fool? Why would you waste your time with this stubborn man? Don't let this needless battle be a blemish on your record". She spoke wisdom into David. She was saying "David, look at who you are. You're the next king. God is going to entrust you with an enduring dynasty, but you're about to blow it by taking revenge on this fool".
David came to his senses, he said (1 Samuel 25:33-34), "Abigail, the Lord God of Israel has sent you to me today, for if you had not kept me from carrying out vengeance with my own hands, not one of your family members would be alive". We're all going to encounter Nabels in life, people that are rude, hard-headed, offensive. I'll ask you what Abigail asked David: why are you fighting with a fool? Why are you in conflict with someone that's not going anywhere? Why are you upset with that person that cut you off in traffic? You don't even know them. Why are you offended at that co-worker, they're not between you and your destiny. They can't stop what God has planned for you, so they don't like you, they made negative comments, they left you out, that's a test. You can't reach your destiny without difficult people. Don't get distracted, baited into conflicts that don't matter. Be like that teflon pan, don't let any of it stick. God has an awesome future for you, but the enemy will work overtime like with David to try to get you distracted, offended, trying to pay people back. Don't take the bait.
Abigail came back home the next morning, told her husband what she did. When he heard it, Nabel had a stroke, became paralyzed. Ten days later he died. Now, Abigail was a beautiful woman, David didn't waste any time. He send word, asking her to become his wife. She agreed. When you let God fight your battles, you'll come out better off than you were before. I'm not saying you're going gonna get another wife, but he'll do something. But if it had not been for Abigail, if she had not stopped David from acting on his emotions, we might not be talking about David. If you let people get you upset, offended, where you're focused on paying them back, you can miss your destiny.
Maybe I'm your Abigail today. Maybe God sent me to remind you not to let difficult people bait you into conflict, steal your joy, cause you to live frustrated, spending energy on things that don't matter. You can't get away from the Nabels. You pray one away, Nabel junior will show up tomorrow. You have to make up your mind that difficult people are not going to control you. You're not going to let them offend you, upset you, push your button. Turn those buttons off. Stay in peace. Time is short. We're not going to be here forever, don't waste another minute fighting with the crows, arguing with the chickens, debating with the turkeys. Be an eagle, start rising above that. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: you're not only going to enjoy your life more, but God will take care of your Nabels. You're going to see vindication, promotion, favor, breakthroughs, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen today?