My dad pastored a little Baptist church on the south side of St. Paul, Minnesota while I was in Jr. High. We had a Bible teacher come one year for a week of nightly meetings, something you probably couldn’t get away with these days. He taught from a unique perspective that resonated with my parents and many in the church. (Being in Jr. High, nothing resonated with me except sports and girls.) He described people hard to get along with as, “two-legged minor irritations that make you more like Christ.” I’ve never forgotten that description though I’ve often forgotten its truth.[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
People who irritate you are for your good. They are in your life to make you more like Jesus. Let me put it more strongly – without people to irritate you, you cannot become godly.
Irritators Are Everywhere
You’re married to one. He’s driving the car in front of you. She’s in the cubicle down the hall. They’re the neighbors who live next door. He’s the employee who doesn’t do things your way. She’s the part-timer at McDonald’s who can’t get your order right. He’s the salesperson who won’t leave you alone. They’re the couple in church who refuse to take their baby to the nursery.
You’ve seen Christians fly off the handle when irritated. You’ve driven with Christians who yell at other drivers or threaten them under their breath because they do something “stupid.” You’ve seen Christians take offense when none was given. They get angry because “so-and-so” treated them “unfairly.” Are you, perhaps, one of these Christians?
How can you respond when irritated by someone?
1. You can try to fix the irritation. This rarely works. “I’m going to teach them a lesson” usually spells trouble for everyone concerned. Unless you have a good relationship with the person or you overflow with love for people, it’s best to be cautious with this approach.
2. You can embrace the irritation.
- Say “Thank you” for the person who irritates you.
- Let the irritation do its work. What’s being touched in you by their irritating actions? Does that need to be addressed?
- Pray for that person. There’s something in them causing them to irritate others.
- Pray for yourself to see the good that is present in the irritation.
3. You can become a person who is irritated only by what matters. Jesus saw the temple turned into a marketplace and was able to do something about it. Jesus rebuked his disciples over their lack of faith. The Apostle Paul chided the Corinthians for mishandling relationships, communion, doctrine, and spiritual gifts. St. James admonishes his readers to stop blessing God and cursing people out of the same mouth. These men were probably not irritated by the actions of others. But, they did possess the authority and credibility to speak into the actions of others. They “picked their battles” wisely. You can do the same.
4. You can become a person who is less irritated. By living more and more from a still and quiet heart, you will be irritated less and less.
So, who are the “two-legged minor irritations” in your life? Share your stories and thoughts below. We all benefit. And, share this post with others.