Now you may be reading the title of this week’s blog on dealing with difficult people and think either I have made a mistake or I have lost my mind. Well, neither is true. I believe we need to be two-faced in dealing with difficult people – will you let me explain?
I don’t mean that we are nice to people’s faces and spiteful behind their backs. That is what the definition of two faced generally means. Someone who is polite about you when you are in earshot, and then rude about you when you are not. That person lacks the fear of the Lord because Lev. 19.14 says one of the hallmarks of someone who fears the Lord is that they do not curse the deaf. In other words, they are not rude about someone when they cannot hear them. We need to be God-fearers and God-honourers! We don’t just do what is right and talk good about people to benefit us, we do it because it is the right thing to do before God. So I am not talking about that definition of two-faced.
My definition of two-faced in terms of a way of helping you deal with the difficult people in your life comes from the life of Moses. Let’s look at two Scriptures describing Moses, shall we:
And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. (Exodus 34.29)
And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in mount Sinai. And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.(Exodus 34.32f)7
When Moses spoke with the Lord something very special happened to him – his face began to shine. So Moses had a shining face. He fasted and prayed and climbed a tall mountain and on the mountain God spoke to him face to face. He enjoyed a great fellowship with God and that made his face shine. So it is correct to say that Moses had a shining face.
But when Moses spoke to the children of Israel he covered his face with a veil. So it is correct to say that Moses had a veiled face. Why did Moses cover his face? We can see here why:
So when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him. (Exodus 34.30, NLT)
When Moses came near the people who were not walking with the Lord as intensely as he was, who were not in the presence of the Lord like him – quite frankly, his shining face scared them.
This principle or picture is something that happens today across the church, and as a Christian you may have been on either side of it. If you start becoming a radical disciple of Jesus Christ, and start living a Christ-like life, it scares people. If you genuinely bless those who persecute you from the heart, it scares people. If you pull someone out of a wheelchair and they are healed, it scares people. If you have heard God speak to you and He has told you things to come, it scares people. If you spend hours praying in tongues and worshipping your Father, it scares people. If you give 10% of all you earn and gain to the house of the Lord so there is meat in His house, it scares people. If you fast for a couple of days, it scares people. If you go to church every single week, even if your in-laws are round, even if it is a nice sunny day, it scares people. If you are patient and kind and always hope and always believe, it scares people. If your strength and joy come from the Lord and you rejoice in all circumstances, it scares people.
What often sadly happens in response to the people being scared – and often the people who are most scared are in the churches and Christian, but just Christian enough, if you know what I mean – what sadly happens is that people then back off from the Lord. They lower their level of faith and commitment to that of the crowd around them. They let the peer pressure get to them and they lose their shining face to fit in with the people.
That is not a good way to deal with the difficult people who cannot handle your level of faith and intimacy with the Lord. Don’t give up the shining face – don’t back off from prayer, from giving, from faith, from feeding on the Word, don’t back off. Never never give up the shining face – be radical, be audacious, be a disciple!
But you have to learn to veil your face so you don’t scare people. Your faith in God might be at Ferrari level, and you might be able to drive at 280mph, but it is not wise to do so in a built up area! Someone will get hurt, or they will get scared.
Learn to veil your face. What does that mean? It means a number of things in a number of different situations and all of you reading this need to ask the Lord for wisdom in this, because there are times your face needs to shine and the people need to know you have been with Jesus! But here is some practical wisdom to help you begin:
- Don’t discuss your prayer and worship times with people who don’t understand prayer. If someone is struggling to believe that God even exists, they are going to think you are crazy if you tell them about the two hours of tongues you talk in every day. If they are a new Christian it’s just going to condemn them. When you come back from a conference and tell them how amazing it was because you spent three hours singing the same song and the glory was just everywhere they are not inspired or challenged. Learn to veil the face. Keep the secret place secret!
- Be natural about supernatural things. When ministering healing to someone, don’t put on a false voice or false words or trying to be someone else. Learn to be yourself and be casual about moving in the power of God. That way you don’t unnecessarily scare people.
- Not everything has to be shared at once. One of the things that used to happen in Dagenham and is now happening across the Network as we raise up young preachers is that people cannot tell time – you ask them to take the offering and they speak for 20 minutes. No – we don’t need all that, we just need one Scripture, and one point and 3 minutes is fine. Learn to veil the face – you don’t have to share everything all the time.
- Make sure you still spend time with God. Don’t forget to take the veil off, get in your prayer closet and pray and worship and love and read the Word and listen to the Word and be in church every Sunday.
- Make sure you have some close friends who are never scared about your face.