We deal with troublemakers, those crafty people who get under our skin, wrecking havoc on our otherwise harmonious families, workplaces and communities, spreading ill-ease like an infectious disease. The truth is, troublemakers are often troubled people.
Often prideful, ego-maniacal, jealous, controlling, ignorant, unhappy, angry, well-disguised sociopaths or mentally unbalanced — and some just Godless — troublemakers are wolves in sheep’s clothing, trolls under the bridge. Adept at rolling over anyone in their way, they start arguments, lie to get ahead, blame, master manipulate, con, tear apart, and rule unjustly. What’s worse, they sniff you out because they know you know, you with x-ray vision who stand for truth, can see right through them. With all their false, yet potent power, they make sure you’ll never reveal the less than powerful wizard they are behind the curtain.
All their guns are out, aimed at you – the truth teller, the justice seeker, the princes and princesses of truth, and they’re out to win. They’re master spin-doctors, they get the jobs you should have, they try to steal your kid into illicit worlds, they’re wolves in sheep’s clothing. They win lawsuits through lies, sadly, they pull it off, even climbing right over lady justice.
…a double-minded man is unstable in all he does– James 1:8
My husband and I have had a few big troublemakers in our lives the past year – one at work, one in our community. We also have a neighbor who sneers at us when taking out the garbage, and we’ve said but five words to him since we’ve moved next door. My husband also shares an office with a troublemaker he’s working with on a short-term project. It’s like sharing an office with one of those scary jack-in-boxes in horror movies. He lies through his teeth to keep his job and takes credit for my husband’s work while smiling wide, obsequious Cheshire cat grins when the boss comes around. Another in our community, well, I’m not so sure of her underlying agendas or issues yet, but since I called her on some decisions she made that felt inequitable, impacting the harmonious dynamics of a lovely community we’re a part of, her claws are out, and boy they’re sharp and scary.
As highly sensitive people, when we don’t have on the armor of God, when we don’t have the gift of discernment in knowing how to best deal with these troublemakers, they can easily get under our skin, disrupting our home and lives, pulling us into their lion’s den.
I have ongoing disagreements with my husband on how best to deal with such people. He’s working hard on ending the bad habit of processing his frustrations about them at home, sometimes obsessively, and thankfully has come to the realization he needs to find a better way. He’s realized their behavior insults his values of integrity and kindness, and he just plain doesn’t like mean people. Yet, he’s also discovered they’re the bullies of his childhood, or they remind him of his jealous, stiff-necked brother who hated and tried to sabotage his boyhood joy. It’s a good thing he’s getting a handle on this — we all need to learn that troublemakers can trigger anger and infect our own unhealed wounds, which also gives them a free pass to our back doors.
A dishonest man spreads strife. -Proverbs 16:28
I have tended in the past to process inwardly, obsessing as I rolled around in my bed in the night, the hundred ways I might get back at them, ways I might make their wrongs right. But thankfully, with my deeper intention for living a holy life, I now seek deeper wisdom through prayer and by talking with friends I trust.
I can of myself do nothing. -John 5:30
I wonder, too, how did Jesus deal with troublemakers? What I discover is that Jesus displays a range of conflicting emotions in dealing with difficult people – from bold confrontation and outrage, to the call to love them. I’m digging into how we might follow some of Jesus’ examples, and looking at scripture that could be of help.
Be the Good Troublemaker:
Jesus was a good troublemaker. As a troublemaker for good, he stood for the oppressed facing injustice caused by individuals, governments and religious establishments of his day.
“We have found this man to be a troublemaker, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.”
When troublemakers oppress innocent people, we’re called to be bold stirrers of the pot. It’s okay then to start a mini-revolution to be sure justice is served and truth is told.
Tell the scathing truth, get angry:
Jesus was a master at confronting troublemakers. He does so with unabashed boldness, speaking raw truth about their less than nobel actions, and even suggests we should be sharing meals with such people when we do so. So by all means, invite them out to lunch, especially those calling themselves religious, misrepresenting God.
In Luke 11 we read Jesus’ confrontation with the Pharisees, the religious leaders:
The Pharisee saw that Jesus did not wash his hands before he ate. He was surprised. Jesus said to him, `You Pharisees wash the outside of a cup and a dish clean. But inside you are full of greed and wrong ways. You are fools! Did not God make the outside and inside also? He tells them, too, “you do not love God”!
And he calls them on pridefulness.`You Pharisees will have trouble! In the meeting houses you want to sit in the front seats. And in the market you want people to greet you. You will have trouble! You are not true to yourselves! You are like graves that are not marked. Men walk over them and do not know it.‘
And Jesus had no problem calling them serpents, offspring of vipers!
Oh Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness!
When people defiled the temple selling for profit, his anger flares as he flips over the tables, goods spilling all over the temple court floors, rolling into corners, shattering into pieces. – Matthew 23:13
Can we be so bold facing such troublemakers who defile God?
Turn to God and Ignore them:
Let’s face it, some people have the devil on their shoulder. James gives us some advice:
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:7
I love this one, especially since we tend to think of the devil as someone who can get the best of us. I also love knowing God has it handled, and I can take a back seat.
In this past situation with the woman in the community, I decided after all to back off from the community because of her negativity and mean streak. I decided not to confront her, and this wisdom came from prayer where I realized she is an irrational person, unable to communicate effectively, and confrontation would only make the situation worse.
Love Your Enemies and Forgive:
Regardless of Jesus’ forthright confrontations and anger, he also modeled how we are called to love and forgive our enemies.
You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you. Matthew 5:43-48
How can we ever forget his words to those who tortured and killed him on the cross – many, the very Pharisees he condemned.
Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. – Luke 23:24
And how, early in his ministry he cried out for the sake of the ignorant, the troublemakers :
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! -Matthew 23:37
He loved them.
Yes, we should both confront and ignore troublemakers — and love and forgive them, too.
And remember, God makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.– Matthew 5:45
Are you troubled by a troublemaker? What are ways you deal with troublemakers?
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