Dear Dr. Wonder, What can I do about mean people?
The Dr. Wonder’s Workshop TV show is a collaboration between Silent Blessings, Deaf Missions, and Deaf Video Communications. Part of our role is to answer fan mail, some being opportunities to minister to deeper needs. We’ve been asked a few times how to cope with people being mean, and that’s a question society as a whole seems to be asking these days. Here’s our answer:
At Dr. Wonder’s Workshop, we want to make sure that all children have a chance to learn how much Jesus loves them. He sees everyone as special. He even loves mean people, though He doesn’t want people to be mean.
The book of Acts tells about one who turned around and became a follower of Jesus: Paul the Apostle (who used to be a very mean Saul). At first, Jesus’ followers tried to stay out of Saul’s way, which was smart, because he was really mean – but in his heart, he was trying to do what he thought God wanted him to do. So, Jesus stopped him one day and turned him around, then changed his name to Paul. Sometimes people are mean because they don’t know better, and we let Jesus deal with them.
Another approach is to deliberately be nice to them, as Ananias did with Paul. As you read Acts 9, you’ll find that Jesus told Ananias to go to Paul, and that part’s important. If Jesus is telling you to actively be nice to someone, it’s because He sees inside their heart, knows that He can change them, and is inviting you to participate. Remember, only Jesus can see inside the hearts of other people, so we need to listen to Him. He’ll tell us whether we should stay away from a person or choose to be their friend.
Some people are mean because they don’t like themselves much, and they want to make others feel worse somehow. They focus on differences and declare themselves “better.” Jesus teaches us not to compare ourselves to others and not to listen to people who try to compare. Everyone has something that makes him or her a little different than everyone else. He made us that way, and He loves all the differences He gave us. Focus on what Jesus says about you in the Bible. He says that He loves you, that He knew you before you were born, that He laid out plans for your life to bring you good and bring Him glory, and that He is preparing a place for you in His home. He wants a strong friendship with you so that you can live with Him forever.
Remember that Jesus’ plans for us include building into our lives certain experiences that will help us tell other people about His love for them. Sometimes we’ll have to deal with mean people. No matter what, we can pray for them, that Jesus will change their hearts, and we’ll receive the wisdom and strength to be good examples, no matter whom we meet.