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The world is filled with difficult people, isn't it? Obnoxious, opinionated, angry, loquacious people whose world is filled with only a four-letter word: S-E-L-F.

It seems to me that those who are in the ministry are exposed to more than their fair share of folks who are pretentious, volatile, jaggedly broken and demanding.

What do you do when day after day all you deal with are difficult people? What do you do when your life is filled to overflowing with fractious people whose only objective is to generate more pain because of the pain that they personally have had to endure?

What do you do?

I have learned from experience that difficult people tend to bring out the worst in others. Often when I am met with a problematic person, I become the worst version of me. I respond with impatience, self-righteous behavior and a tongue that has no boundaries. I don't want to be that person!

I also don't want to morph into a turtle who hides in a protective shell every time my path crosses that dreaded onerous person. I don't want to run the other way in the church hallway when I see her coming in my direction. I don't want to ignore her numerous calls and eventually block her number.

Difficult people... we all have them, don't we?

Perhaps it would be beneficial to just pause for a minute and evaluate why the Lord has allowed a difficult person or two into your life.

Is it to frustrate you? To rile you? To make you want to run and hide?

Maybe the reason that Jesus has allowed a difficult person into your life is to bring out the Jesus in you! Perhaps the Lord has strategically placed a troublesome person or two in your personal pathway so that you would begin to flex that muscle of unconditional love.

Maybe the Lord has allowed a trying person into my sphere of influence so that I will exhibit patience and joy! When they blame, I bless. When they verbally vomit, I choose to listen and encourage. When they talk about self, I talk about Him.

I must view "difficult people" as the fertilizer in the garden of my life. God has chosen me to love them; they are a gift to me from the Father so that I would grow into the very likeness of Jesus.

I believe that becoming more Christ-like every day of my life is the greatest calling I could ever have. If difficult people help me to be more like Jesus, I say, "Bring it!"

I must not push difficult people away like intruders but I must welcome them as friends. It is, after all, what Jesus would do.

Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written eight books, including, The Rooms of a Woman's HeartDefiant Joy!Holy Estrogen!No More OrdinaryRefinedJoy For All SeasonsLet There Be Joy! and Pass the Joy, Please! which releases on February 1, 2018. Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. You can also listen to Carol's "Jolt of Joy" program daily on the Charisma Podcast Network. Connect with Carol or inquire about her speaking to your group at justjoyministries.com.

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