An impromptu night out with some new friends several weeks ago led to all four of us around the table, on our cell phones, each taking the Enneagram personality quiz online. We were all eagerly awaiting our results as we laughed together, sharing some of the more bizarre questions.
My results were no surprise to me; Type 1, The Moral Perfectionist.
I’ve known since college Sociology class that I’m a typical type A personality. I like things organized, I have high standards (for myself and others), I’m a stickler for rules and I pay close attention to details as to avoid making mistakes as often as possible, to protect my tender pride.
This impromptu outing was the result of a few rough weeks at work because of a “difficult person”.
You know the kind.
They write entire books on how to deal with them, am I right!?
Anyway, I had been trying, and failing, to deal with this in my own ways and I was frustrated to say the least! I felt I’d tried every way of dealing with the situation to no avail. It just seemed to be getting worse and I was at a loss for what to do next.
Now, while my type 1 personality result was not a surprise to me, what was a surprise was how often I unwillingly thought about it over the next few days.
This personality type has cost me a lot over the years and I’ve worked hard to overcome my perfectionist tendencies in order to “relax” and enjoy less stress. Seeking the simple life has been my mantra the past few years, so to hear my results so strongly a type 1 made me wonder if my efforts had failed??
“But come on”, I told myself, “a leopard cannot change its spots any more than I can completely change from a type 1 personality to a type 6 or a 9. I am who I am. And better yet, I was made ON purpose WITH a purpose.”
Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.
As I reflected on this beloved scripture, I began to accept the truth of the matter, I didn’t need to come up with new and fantastic ways to deal with a “difficult person” all I had to do was realize that we are ALL the “difficult person” for someone!
There are stories and examples of this all over the Bible, I mean Cain and Abel, am I right?
But truly Matthew probably has the most insightful perspective on this one in 7:3-5 of his book, Why do you look at that speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye?
We’ve all been there. “Let me help you, friend, you’re really struggling, you’ve got a little speck of sawdust in your eye. Honestly, you’re kind of failing, completely. Get it together! Come on, man!”
All the while there’s an entire plank hanging out of our own eye and we’re all kind of failing, completely.
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Now this realization that we are all the “difficult person” for someone isn’t going to change the reality of the situation, I know that. There will still be people that we don’t like and this article won’t help us to magically see eye-to-eye with them. But my prayer is that this article will help us to see that we can still love those people that we don’t like and accept that it’s ok not to like them! Yeah, I said it! Stop trying to like everyone! That’s not the call! The call is to love everyone. And there are some people that you just have to give to God because He’s so much better at it than we are and through the process He’s going to bless your true efforts.
Now, I am going to repeat this piece because I feel it’s important for everyone to hear. Being a good Christian does not mean you like everyone. You are not a bad Christian if you don’t like someone.
The honest to God truth is there will always be someone that our personalities clash with because they can’t change who they are anymore than we can change who we are and the two just don’t mesh and that’s fine! It’s a fact of life.
But it’s a fact of the flesh.
We are called to live in the spirit. Here’s the hard part, dear reader. We are called to more. We are called to a higher standard of living as true Christians. So, we have to stop exhausting ourselves trying to get those little flecks of sawdust out of that “difficult person’s” eyes and focus on that plank! There’s a blessed log hanging out of our own eye! That’s where the focus has to be and we have the blessing of being able to shift our eyes Heavenward so our precious Father can lean down and pluck that plank out for us.
What a sweet image of our dear Father leaning down and removing that log for us as if it were a mere splinter.
You know as well as I do, there will always be “difficult people” for us but nothing will justify us treating them any less than God has commanded us.
John 15:12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
May God bless you as you go out this week to love those difficult people, including yourself, as God has commanded.