How to Deal with Jerks in Your Life

I’m always amazed how some couples have no problem fighting in public. Once I stood in the popcorn line at the movies and the couple in front of me were arguing. In this case, the man was way out of line.

I wanted to take his popcorn, soft drink, and hot cheesy nachos and dump them down his pants.

How to Deal with the Jerks in Your Life

(Photo: by Robert Byron, via Vivozoom)

Some people are, well, just flat unlovable. On good days we call them “jerks.” On bad days we’re tempted to cross the line and be jerks right back at them.

It’s for those days the Scriptures urge us:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. . . . If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. —Romans 12:17–19

Sometimes this command seems impossible with jerks. And honestly?

It is.

Only with God’s help can you deal with the jerks in your life.

It Begins with Attitude

Remember when Mike Tyson bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a heavyweight fight? Holyfield later said:

Attitude is what causes us to fail. If you can control your emotions, you can control a lot of things. —Evander Holyfield

Attitude. What attitude should you adopt when someone is a complete jerk?

Some people, it seems, refuse to be peaceful. That’s why Paul qualified his command: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Notice that while you can’t control their actions, you CAN control yours: “as far as it depends on you.” Your input into the exchange should be peaceable, regardless of theirs.

But how?

We may never change the jerks in our lives. But neither do they have to change us. (Tweet that.)

Responding Versus Reacting

Let’s turn the tables for a moment.

When YOU are a jerk to your spouse or to a close friend, they have two possible reactions:

  1. If he or she snaps back and reacts in retaliation, you feel justified in your rudeness. After all, they (now) “deserve” it.
  2. But if he or she responds with control, kindness, and gentleness, then God has “room” to convict your conscience.

Turn the tables back around and apply this personally.

  • Think about the last time you reacted like a jerk. What could you have done differently?
  • Before the next “episode” occurs with the habitual jerks in your life, choose ahead of time how you will respond with kindness.

Am I not destroying my enemies by making them my friends? —Abraham Lincoln

Consider One Final Example

The attitude God had toward us was to woo us to His side through grace (Romans 5:8). He still does, in fact:

Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? —Romans 2:4

It was goodness that overcame evil for our souls. Such can do the same in our relationships, God willing.

In the end, we may never change the jerks in our lives. But neither do they have to change us.

Question: What helps you respond well to jerks? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Anna Popescu

    Wow, this is soooo good, Wayne! Thank you for such wonderful insight!

    Blessings,
    ~Anna

    • http://www.waynestiles.com/ Wayne Stiles

      You’re welcome, Anna. It’s always great to surprise the jerks in the world with kindness. Likely, they aren’t used to it. I appreciate your comment. Thanks.

  • Kari Neal

    you are so right. on so many points. loved the blog. we all know jerks, but how many of us will actually admit we’ve been one ourself? i love what i call one-liners, and there’s a line in a book by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee called Burn. it simply says this:
    the heart has two chambers: one for Judas, and one for John.
    what that meant to me is that every minute we live, we have a choice. to obey or betray the one we say we love. with our words. our thoughts. our actions. God says to repay good for evil. the world says that revenge is a dish best served cold. i decided a long time ago that revenge doesn’t interest me. i prefer the taste of a different dish. redemption. you? kari

    • http://www.waynestiles.com/ Wayne Stiles

      That’s a great outlook, Kari. Let’s stay out of that Judas chamber! Thanks for your words.

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  • C.

    “What helps you respond well to jerk?”

    Remembering option C.

    I don’t have to respond at all.

    • http://www.waynestiles.com/ Wayne Stiles

      It’s tough to pull that off, isn’t it, C? You are better than most, if you can do it. Thanks for your comments.