A big part of Missions  and ministry in general is a willingness to help those in need with an attitude of humility. Experience has taught me many times that connecting with others in love has great power.
However there is a small amount of people (lets say 15%) who you won’t be able to make happy. And learning how to deal with those people in an attitude of humility is also a huge part of ministry.
One of the ministries I’m involved with is computer tutoring once a week at a local library where students can use desktop computers provided by library staff. We were going over some basic Microsoft Word commands when I noticed one of the students was getting very angry.
Somehow her computer had been set up in way that kept the ribbon (part of Word where you find basic commands like save or print) from being viewed properly. When she moved her mouse near the area of the ribbon it would appear, but the moment she moved away it would disappear.
Obviously this made completing commands on her computer quite difficult so I don’t blame her for getting frustrated.
For the rest of class we tried everything to fix the problem:
- I attempted to find a way for the ribbon to be viewed properly
- Brought in two other library personnel to work on it
- When they couldn’t fix it I offered to get her another computer
- When she wasn’t interested in doing this I apologized, and promised it would never happen again
Now for 85% to 90% of people, that would have taken care of things…but not with this woman
- She sighed deeply
- Complained about how she hated that computer
- Rolled her eyes when it wouldn’t work properly
- And finally folded her arms and refused to attempt the work
The first three times she did this I apologized again and explained there was nothing we could do to fix the problem. Eventually though I stopped trying to apologize because nothing was going to make her happy (except for fixing her computer which we couldn’t do).
Sadly there are people in the world who you just can’t make happy. The easiest thing to do in this situation is either completely ignore them (like I did) or get angry with their unfair demands.
The flaw with ignoring people you can’t make happy is they quite often refuse to be ignored. And obviously getting angry damages our Christian testimony, so instead we must approach them with love and humility.
While I definitely don’t have all the answers about dealing with these kinds of people, here are some things that computer class taught me about showing them love.
- Make sure you understand what the real problem is (they are usually upset about other things going on, and that experience is just what sent them over the edge)
- Explain that they aren’t the only ones with that difficulty (there were at least three computers in the room with the same problem, but the others didn’t complain about it)
- Ask how you can help (“Okay I think we understand the problem, now how do you want me to fix it?”)
- Be calm and gracious at all times refusing to raise your voice
- Make sure you understand what they are saying (“Alright it seems like your angry because we aren’t working hard enough on the problem is that right?”)
- Try to look at it from the persons perspective (She may have felt disrespected because we weren’t trying hard enough to fix it in her mind)
- Make sure she understands your perspective (Only focusing on her means I am ignoring six other students)
- In a spirit of humility ask for clarification (“I’m sorry I have a hard time understanding why your so upset about the computer not working properly. If you could help me understand why this is so important to you I think we could come up with a solution.”)
Of course there comes a time when you must step away from people who refuse to be happy, but in my opinion that should be our last resort.
Sadly there are people in this world who are looking to complain or pick a fight with someone. While we aren’t called to give them complete control over our lives, it’s important to remember God calls us to love them.
- reaching others with the Gospel of Christ ↩