When dealing with challenging people, I’ve found that simply treating them like human beings makes a huge difference. Very often, a challenging person in your church or group is a challenging person everywhere. And because of this, they are often shunned or ostracized. For many, this has happened all their lives. What we consider challenging behavior is often just a coping mechanism to deal with their low self-esteem.
My friend Sandy Brannon at Establish Intention has a wonderful newsletter. Her March 2010 article was called the Gift of Dignity. She maintains that dignity is a gift we give one another, and that it may be the most valuable gift we can give.
I would agree. I’ve seen it happen over and over. A person who seems to have few or no social skills joins a group that shows him or her unconditional love. Other members don’t shy away from relationship, but rather embrace the challenging person in conversation, invitations, and concern. It’s amazing how quickly the person absorbs that love, like water to a thirsty plant. In many cases, the “weird” behavior becomes less and less noticeable as the person gains confidence in himself and the relationships.
Who do you know who needs this gift today? How can you give the gift of dignity to someone in your circle of influence? Share your experiences with us.