I recently finished reading and writing a report on a book by John Ortberg title The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s Best Version of You, which was about spiritual formation/growth. Within the book, there is a chapter titled “Find a Few Difficult People to Help You Grow.” Ortberg states, “As lifting weights strengthens a muscle and cardio exercise strengthens a heart, difficult people can strengthen our ability to love” (2010, p. 204). I agree with Ortberg, difficult people in our lives challenge us to be better people and help us grow spiritually. It is easy to love and get along with someone who is not being difficult, who do not challenge us or the status quo. But it can be hard to love someone who does not agree with us or our thinking and wants to break away from the way things stand and bring changes in our lives.
I do not think so much as people being difficult as to them being challenging. They challenge the way I think and behave. Yes, they can bring out the worst in me, but they can also bring out the best in me. I have several people in my life that bring challenges for me. I have learned to find a way to accept the challenge to love them. I could not do this without God in my life. If God wants you to grow, he will place challenging things in your life, including people. We do not thrive in situations that become stale or routine. It is only when we face challenges that we grow and become better individuals.
The choice is yours to include difficult/challenging people in your life or not. But remember these people can either bring out the worst in you or bring out the best in you. Before you make the decision to avoid difficult/challenging people think about how God wants you to respond and why he put them in your life in the first place. Maybe they are there to help you to dig deeper into your heart and bring spiritual growth or change the way you are thinking and behaving. Then again, you may need to realize that “you are” the difficult/challenging person God put in another person’s life.
Love God, Love People.
Matthew 22:36-40 (New International Version), “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Ortberg, J. (2010). The me I want to be: Becoming God’s best version of you. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan