Pastor Josh Leadership

Toxic People

Written in 2017
Artboard 1toxic

I must have heard it over a million times, “You need to get rid of the toxic people in your life.” There are numerous sermons and YouTube videos about separating yourself from people, finding new friends, cutting the cord, etc. A lot of different ways to say, “eliminate people that discourage or drain you.” I get it. 

One thing as a pastor I understand is that people can be incredibly draining, and yes, Jesus often removed himself from others
….to pray.(Lk 5:16) Quite possibly to pray that He would have the strength to love the object of his assignment: People. You know what I cannot find Jesus doing? Writing people off because they were doubting, discouraging, draining, disappointing, deceiving, and denouncing. Jesus loved till the end. He is the model.

 I understand we live in an age where the goal is self-preservation, but following Christ is about being light, bringing hope, and loving like He loves. A love that lays itself down.(Jn 15:13) If it’s always comfortable and always easy, then what has it cost us to love? I mean, how effective is a candle in a well-lit room? 

Remember Judas? Jesus knew he was a back-stabbing sell-out, but He loved him till the end. Remember, Thomas? How about Peter, one of Jesus’ core group of guys. Jesus continued to invest in him, knowing he made a fool of himself time after time. Jesus even knew he would deny Him? So what did Jesus do with Peter? He invested in him, and in return Peter lead a movement for Christ that turned the known world upside down(Acts 17:6). Peter eventually got it together because he was invested in and believed in. 

Peter eventually got it together because he was invested in and believed in. 

Here are a few ways we follow Jesus when there are difficult people in our lives. 

#1. Pray for them.
One of the ways that God gives us a heart for people and turns our heart towards people is in the place of prayer. Don't pray “about them” pray for them, and watch God transform your heart. Maybe the “toxic people” are not the problem, and maybe it’s your attitude towards them. 
#2. Invest in them.
The fact is that we all have “toxic” traits. We all have hang ups, we all have things that rub people the wrong way, traits that make navigating a relationship difficult. So what makes us so important that we need to eliminate the people that we struggle to love because it's uncomfortable? May I suggest that God actually wants us to be in those peoples lives to teach us something about Him, something about love. May I suggest that God put YOU in the “toxic” people’s lives to be an instrument to help them. Maybe you are the antidote?

#3. Manage the relationship.
This is one thing that I have difficulty with. I feel a God-given responsibility to love people well, but at the end of the day I have a lot of love to give out. If I am completely wasted then I have nothing to give my family and the other people that I need to give myself too. The hard to love folks need love so I don't eliminate them, however, I don't give them all of my love. For some people it’s just never enough. That is not to say I don't give them some part of myself. We don’t need to eliminate our relationship with them, we need to manage it. You don’t have to be besties with everybody, but you do have to have a healthy heart towards them. If a little bit of time with a person that drains you is more than you can handle, then the problem is not that person. You may be looking for the resources of your heart and the fuel for your life in the wrong place. 

Beloved, let us love like Jesus loves and watch the potential of others unfold before our eyes.

*Disclaimer* There are absolutely times to remove people from your life. This should be the exception but not the rule and appropriate when one harms you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. 

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