I’m sure we all know that one person (or a few) that seems to always have a negative attitude and mindset. It doesn’t matter how great a situation is, they will find something to complain about. You could be handing out free money and they would complain that you didn’t give to everyone, or it wasn’t enough to actually do anything with. How do you handle these kinds of people? Here’s how to deal with negative people.
Love God, and love people. Sounds easy right? Except when that person I mentioned above is so negative that you just want to scream, “shut up!” Sometimes the negativity rubs you to the last straw and beyond. Before you get to that point here’s what to do when dealing with those negative people that push every button…twice.
First and foremost is to always check your self. This is purely living out the plank principle from Matthew 7.
Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? – Matt. 7:3
Sure they deal with negativity, but what about your pride, your lust, your selfishness, or your gluttony? It’s easy to see your brother’s sin and want to pull the speck out their eye, and not even realize there is a log protruding from your own.
Trust me, I’m just as guilty. I am an optimistic person 99% of the time. Sometimes those people that see the world through negative colored lenses make me cringe and want to scream. I have to be diligent to always remember my own sin is always bigger than my brother’s regardless of what those fruits may be.
Anytime that negative person starts to rub you the wrong way, take a moment to stop, step back, and look in the Spiritual mirror. Ask the Lord, “What log is protruding from my own eye? Holy Spirit remove it that I may see clearly.”
Pray For Them
The easiest way to combat the negativity of someone is to pray for them. In his book Life Together: The Classic Exploration Of Christian Community, Dietrich Bonhoeffer explains it this way:
I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me.
Let that statement sink in for a minute. Have you prayed for them? If you have, then their negativity should no longer cause you trouble. If it continues to trouble you, return to the first step and check for more logs.
Jesus told us to love people, but He also gave us another important lesson:
do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. – Matt. 7:6
You can love even the worst of people without giving them your pearls. You don’t have to invest the very best of your wisdom and time into them; otherwise it will be trampled under foot. Find balance in investing in their life, without giving them the pearls of your time, energy, and wisdom.
Live a life of integrity and choose to be a positive influence in their life. Dwell on the positives, and set your mind on things above, as Paul instructs us.
Every person will have to determine the level of balance that they invest and withhold based on the relationship and circumstance. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth, on when to step forward and when to step back.
Don’t Try To Fix Them
Some people are so addicted to negativity and self-pity that they misread when you try to give them a word of encouragement. It’s like taking a fish out of water or trying to get an elephant to climb a tree.
You can’t fix them. Only a revelation of the Lord can fix the spiritual malady that is within them.
A proper spiritual rebuke involves laying the evidence before someone and allowing him or her to be their own jury. You can’t fix them, don’t try. When the proper time comes, as being led by the Spirit, lay the evidence before them and allow the Holy Spirit to convict and bring about a change from within.
If you are investing your pearls into fixing them, your energies will be trampled under foot, and they may turn on you and tear you to pieces.
Don’t Join Them
There’s that old saying that says,
Misery loves company
No one wants to wallow alone, and so they will do their best to be sure you catch what they are spreading, because negativity is contagious. It can spread faster than the common cold. Be sure that you don’t catch the bug and join them. Paul gives us the cure for the negativity cold:
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. – Philippians 4:8
Again to the Colossians:
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. – Colossians 3:2
Where you focus your mind will determine your direction. If you focus on the negativity they are pouring out, you will catch that bug, but if you set your mind on things above, Christ will be your joy and hope regardless of the negativity that is around you.
The next time you find yourself dealing with a highly negative person, try these steps to alleviate the strain it puts on your mind and heart. You can love those negative people without giving them the pearls of your time and energy and without joining them in the mud-pit of life.