ADJUSTING AND ADAPTING OUR APPROACH Sometimes in relating to others it is necessary to make adjustments in our approach to handling issues that involve them. We determine what these adjustments are by getting to know them. First Thessalonians 5:12 says, "Get to know those who labor among you [recognize them for what they are, acknowledge and appreciate and respect them all]."
Paul is referring here primarily to people who are over us in leadership, but I believe this instruction can be applied to all our relationships. The more time we take to get to know those we are in relationship with, the better we will be able to understand them and make the required adjustments.
When I first began walking with the Lord, I was a very stubborn woman. I felt as if all the problems I was experiencing were the result of other people, and if they would just adapt to me, the majority of my problems would disappear.
Romans 12:16 quickly set me straight. It says, "Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits." In other words, you and I need to be ready and willing to adjust to others--not wait for them to adapt to us.
I had to apply this verse to my relationship with my general manager many years ago. She has always been very respectful and kind, but we have two very different personalities.
She has a melancholy type of personality, and I have a choleric one. This means that she is very detailed and desires plenty of information and time in order to make a quality decision. I, on the other hand, am less concerned with the details and more interested in making a quick decision.
Before I got to know her as well as I do now, I would talk to her about different issues and expect her to give me a quick evaluation of the situation. As a result, she would become very upset and sometimes even cry.
Her response frustrated me. Finally, one day I asked her: "Why are you crying? I am just asking a question. What is the problem?" She said: "I feel pressured--I feel as if you are forcing me to give you an answer that I don't have yet. I need time to think."
Now I could have taken the attitude, I'm the boss, and I don't have to put up with this. But I certainly wouldn't have been exhibiting the love of Christ: "Love endures long and is patient and kind...It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way" (1 Cor. 13:4-5).
To walk in the love of Christ, I had to adapt and adjust my way of handling these types of situations with Roxane. I had to give her more time to make a decision.
The fact that I can make a decision faster than she can doesn't mean I'm better--it just means we're different. If I had chosen not to change, I would have missed out on many years of her faithful assistance, which has been a tremendous blessing to both our ministry and me.
PEOPLE CHANGE FROM THE INSIDE OUT The bottom line is that all of us are uniquely different, and God created us that way on purpose. I have come to the realization that it is a waste of our time and energy to try to make people what we think they ought to be. We need to learn to make allowances for them--to give them time and space to make mistakes and grow at their own pace.
The Bible says you change, "[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight" (Phil. 2:13). If you and I don't have the power to change the flaws in our own lives, then we certainly don't have the power to change them in others. Only God can change people, and the changes He brings--which are permanent--come from the inside out.
I encourage you to give up finding fault with others and to instead look for the best in them. Make a decision today that you are going to submit to God and begin walking in love. When you do, your relationships will improve, and you will enjoy all the people God has placed in your life!
Joyce Meyer is founder and president of Life In The Word, Inc. She travels extensively conducting conferences and speaking at local churches. She also is the author of numerous books and ministers regularly via Life In The Word radio and TV broadcasts.
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