How To Deal With Difficult People

The Truth about E.G.R's

In an ideal world, you would get along with everyone you meet. But as you know, that’s not always the case. Here’s what I’m finding helpful these days.


Maybe it’s a boss or a relative, or maybe a neighbor or someone else close to home that is hard to love at times. Today, these people are often referred to as E.G.R’s or Extra Grace Required people. Maybe, just maybe, that phrase instantly rings a bell and you’re picturing that person right now. Try as you might, when you see them coming down the hall at work, you look for a side door to escape.

At times, it may even seem that God surrounds you with a bunch of these porcupine people! They’re not just in the workplace, but at the super market, in the line for gas, on the school board, in the locker room and sometimes even in your home!

Or, if you’re not the person who has a hard time getting along with everyone, you know someone who does. We all know at least one Grinch who hates everyone and is very vocal about it. Guess what? If they talk poorly about everyone they know, they also talk poorly about you when you’re not around. Kind of a bummer, yes, but true. Intuitively, you’ve probably already know that. The fact is, when everyone else is a jerk, in most cases, you’re the jerk.

If you’re lost, let me explain. These days, when I have a hard time extending grace to those who need it, I immediately remind myself how much grace I need myself.

Grace by definition is a free, unmerited favor. Something you get although you’ve done nothing to deserve it. We see it in Jesus and the price he paid on the cross for us. He died for us before we were ever born, not because we were good, but because he knew we would need forgiveness. He didn’t punish us to make us better. No, he took the punishment himself and forgave us and that’s what makes us better.

When I’m cruel to those who are cruel to me, that doesn’t help them or make them better. It starts a vicious cycle. It’s like the proverbial dog who chases its tail. Rather than harming those who harm me, my best recourse is to treat them the way Jesus treats me on a daily basis. I need to treat them the way I would want to be treated if I were in their shoes.

This includes our spouses. It’s so easy to note all of our spouses personal flaws and overlook our own. However, these days when I find myself being critical of others, I’m learning to look in the mirror and remember my own need for grace and mercy.

Right about now, if you’re feeling bad about yourself, remember this,  God loves you and there’s nothing you can do to make him love you any more. Likewise, there’s nothing you’ve done that will make him love you any less!

If there’s anything you’re doing to earn his love and acceptance, stop! While grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Rather than doing more for God, it’s time to start doing less if you’re doing what you’re doing to earn his favor, rather than to express your thankfulness.

I used to think being a Christian was all about how much I gave or read the bible or went to church.  While these disciplines are important, they are to be an expression of my love for God, not a measure of how much he loves me.  For example if I miss church or a time in the morning reading his word or I’m ugly with my wife, it’s so easy to start believing God doesn’t love me that much.  I’ve heard it said that ‘religion is all about what you do, and Christianity is about what has been done’. Taking that a bit further, if you ever get to the point where you think being a Christian is all about what you do, you’re done.

So who have you been denying grace while expecting grace from them in return? What if you decided to extend grace not only to them, but every one you meet?

Extending grace to those who don’t deserve it is not only a Christ like thing to do, it’s also the grown up thing to do. Maybe the person you’re dealing with doesn’t know how to be kind to people who mistreat them because they’ve never been treated that way themselves. Maybe their whole life has been spent trying to earn love and acceptance. Perhaps they started young and believed they had to be a good son or daughter to earn their parents love.

According to the world we live in, everything has to be earned. The world says you have to earn love, you earn money, you earn a degree, you earn a title.  There’s no denying the importance and value of all these efforts.  However, if you reflect, you’ll realize that you can’t work hard enough to earn all of the things you have. For instance, how do you work to earn oxygen, or good looks, or health, or our children? Though we often take these things for granted, they are priceless! There’s nothing you can do to earn them, they’re free gifts.  God loans them to us to enjoy and treasure, not because we deserve them, but because he is soooo good!

In reality, we’re all E.G.R people! We sin, just as easily as water rolls off a ducks back. We are not perfect, especially if we’re trying to be. What we really are, is people who not only need to extend grace, but people who need grace….on a daily basis, moment by moment, hour by hour. The good news is that it is available through Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross some two thousand years ago. You don’t have to wait to receive it next week or next year.  He is alive and well and extending it each moment.  There’s nothing you can do to earn it. You simply receive it and share it with others. So what are you waiting for?


A New Way to Learn

A Concept that Will Change Your Approach to Learning

We all pride ourselves on what we’ve learned, but few of us know how to learn. Let me explain. It may have never occurred to you, but you’ve inherited your approach to learning from others, especially teachers.  Here is a technique that will make learning fun and exciting for you and those you teach.


Like a dancer who responds to the motions of their partner, as learners we doc e doe with our teachers. The goal in most cases is to remember everything they teach relying solely on rote memorization. In the meantime, we often miss out on the principles behind the lessons and how it all ties together. Like the one student told his teacher who bumped into him in the hall, “Don’t touch me, Doc! I’ve been cramming all night and I don’t want anything to leak out!”.

This type of learning isn’t much fun. In fact, not much learning is taking place at all. The information that is memorized for tests is soon forgotten once the final exam is complete. There’s a better way and here it is.

Take the information you learn and weave it into what you already know. For example, Jesus taught Peter how to become a fisher of men in Luke 5. How did he do it? By building on what Peter already knew as a professional fisherman. In effect, Jesus said, “Peter, the principles required to reach others for me are very similar to the ones used to catch fish with a net.”

I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about it, but most of us have no clue how to fish with a net. Sure we get the general idea, but like any other craft, there are fine nuances and techniques.  Today we fish with fishing poles. There’s a difference. Why did Jesus teach as he did in this particular instance? He was using the things Peter already knew as a foundation to teach him something new.

In another instance, Jesus said that reaching others for him is like looking for a lost coin. The householder lights a candle and sweeps the entire house until she finds what she’s looking for. And when she does, she rejoices and calls her friends, Jesus said.  See Luke 15.

While people today do look for lost things, they no longer have to light a candle, they just hit the switch. Therefore, while the lessons Jesus taught are just as relevant as ever, as a teacher you have to think of new and creative ways of presenting them. For example, how would you explain soul winning to a group of factory workers? Kindergartners? If you want to teach like Jesus did, you have to share your lesson in such a way that people can understand it based on their own personal experience. And if you want to learn, a great way is to relate what you’re learning to what you already know.

This type of learning is also great because it allows you to tie ideas together based on what you already know. Therefore, it’s easier to remember new information.

For example, lets say you had to remember five new things. What if you were to visualize the route you take to work each day, in particular, five landmarks along the way. Now, place each piece of information at each spot along your journey, in your mind.

Create whatever visualization it takes to remember the information. In fact, the sillier your pictures, the more memorable.

At the end of the day, it’s amazing how many subjects are related. You may not understand Calculus, but maybe you’ve mastered music. As you learn Calculus, think about how it relates to the lessons you’ve learned about music.

These are just some examples to get you thinking. You do whatever it takes for you to make learning enjoyable and memorable. The true test of IQ is not what you know, but how fast you’re able to learn. Study different ways and find out what’s most effective. Maybe you’re a visual learner or an audio learner, knowing your style will help you advance faster. Better yet, combine as many senses as you can when learning something new. The more senses you use, the more likely you are to remember what you’ve learned.

In Luke 5 Jesus told Peter, “Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men.”  What Jesus was telling Peter is, “Look, this is a high water mark for you.  Things are going to be different from here on out after this lesson.  You didn’t just leave the shore like every other time, you launched out into something new!”.

Then, years later, after Peter had caught many fish, he said this, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Peter 5:10).  That word perfect is katartizo and it means to mend, make whole, complete.  Kind of like a net with holes in it.  In Luke 5 Peter and others were cleaning their nets.  Jesus told them it was time to use the nets and the nets even broke according to verse 6, due to their miraculous catch of fish.  So why would Jesus command the disciples to use their nets if he knew they were going to be broken?

The point is, like the nets we use, Jesus allows us to be broken for his glory to show us and others that he is able to mend us!  No broken nets, no mending.  Now as Peter reflects on the goodness of God, he is once again overwhelmed by the magnificent grace of God.  The strength, Peter realizes, to work for God is not his own, but a free gift.  Yes, Peter must exercise in his own power, but ultimately, God is in that power from beginning to end.  He is both the source and the finisher.  Our only responsibility is to drop the nets, it is God’s responsibility to fill them!

Paul had this to say to his student Timothy about the importance of teaching, “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” 2 Timothy 2:1-2.  You have all the resources to teach because of the grace of God, Paul says.  So teach others, who teach others, and the cycle continues.

In both of these examples, there is one common thread.  Peter emphasizes the importance of grace and so does Paul.  Therefore, it is obvious that many if not all good teachers wrestle with a sense that they are unworthy to teach due to their own failure and sins.  How about you?  Do you often feel undeserving?

The next time you feel incapable of learning or teaching, remind yourself of the goodness and grace of God.  We are all unworthy in our own measure, however, because of the manifest grace of God, we can learn and grow.  In fact, when you grow to a certain point, teaching- or sharing with others what you’ve learned- is a natural result or by product.

What circumstances in your life has God been using to teach you?  When Jesus wanted to teach Peter how to be a leader of men, he used Peter’s natural affinity for fishing to show him what that looked like.  When Paul was equipping Timothy -who apparently felt unworthy- he reminded him that unless he received the grace of God, he could not multiply himself in others.  Again, if you’re facing a feeling of unworthiness, maybe, just maybe, God wants you to see the holes in your net so that he can mend you.  Have fun fishing!

Muck and Mire, Blowing Up Your Life, and the Cost of Growth

What if you wanted to get to the other side of the canyon and the bridge was blown up?


We often think of learning as mountain climbing. With this minset, it’s hard to get started. First you have to climb the mountain and then you get to the summit. Up there it’s easy and it’s effortless to descend on the other side.

But if you really think about it, it’s more like a ravine. It’s easy to get started, then you plateau and there’s a climb to the finish.

Yes, you can glide across, but you’re not going to learn much. Yes, you could build a bridge, but who really has the time? Besides, you’re not looking to get back to where you are now. Your path keeps moving forward beyond. So you have to do what most people are unwilling to do. You have to walk through the vallley, knowing full well there may be muck and mire to tread through. Real learning is hard work. No ifs ands or buts. It’s easy to get down into the valley, but many won’t venture because they know there’s only one way out once they do and that requires sweat.

So what if you look at the muck and mire as part of the package and decide to risk blowing up your life anyway. That would be foolish. True faith requires risk, but that doesn’t mean risk that isn’t calculations. Even Wile E. Coyote had enough sense to put his designs to capture the Road Runner on paper. They never worked, but it’s still a good idea.

Blowing Up Your Life and the C.O.G

Instead of blowing up your life, what if you looked at your next venture as an experiment. For example, you could experiment with growing your organization by 10% in the next month, or learning a new skill such as Calligraphy or C.A.D. Rather than looking at it as something to be feared, what if you decided it’s just an experiment. But not just any experiment, an ultra- experiment. Which means you’re going to do the hard work of getting down into the ravine and getting out the other side, mud, mire and all. Maybe you’re not burned out right now, just under challenged.

Yes, growth will cost you, but the rewards are worth it. Your discipline and dedication may keep you from doing all of the things you’d like to do right now, but discipline will help you do in the future what can’t be achieved by simply trying. No amount of trying compares to discipline.

If you don’t pay the cost of growth now, you’ll pay later in the form of regret. As Henry Cloud says, ‘Pay now, play later or play now and pay later’.

Now, back to going through the ravine. The reason people don’t like to get down into the mess is because they think it’s going to take too much time and energy. For many people, the thought of spending 4 years in pursuit of a degree or 6 months studying a subject is too long. In some cases it may be. So why not focus on just 4-6 weeks? Remember, it’s just an experiment. For example, you can decide to teach yourself a subject for the next 4-6 weeks. There are plenty of free and/or inexpensive resources online and at the library.

Or you could decide to talk with every expert you know on the subject. That’s faster in some cases because someone can be a very wise thinker and not be able to put their thoughts on paper.

Whatever you do, you’ll need three things.

A goal.  Decide what you want to learn ahead of time. Be specific. I want to learn three ways to effectively reach my community with the gospel is specific. I want to learn more about Evangelism is not so specific.

Next, you need a strategy. I’m going to read 6 books on Evangelism is specific. I’m going to read some books on Evangelism is not so specific. Your plan will only work if you work your plan and a failure to plan is a plan to fail.

Action. The best plan is just some words on a piece of paper unless you implement it. I’m going to spend 1 hour each night researching is specific. I’m going to read a little bit every night is not.

If you’re going to learn, you’re going to have to go through the muck and the mire. There are lions and tigers and bears out there and wishful thinking doesn’t just make them go away. No, you don’t have to blow up your life in the process. Take 1 class rather than three each semester if taking more is going to have a negative impact on your marriage. But whatever you do, realize ahead of time it is going to cost you. Growth does not come free but it’s worth every effort.

What ultra-experiment are you considering and what difficulties, risks and costs do you see in your future? Please comment below and I’ll do my best to respond to as many people as possible.

Blue Light, Reading Retention, and the Art of Empowerment

With the transformation of seasons, what’s on your radar these days? Though these three subjects might seem random, there is a common denominator to tie them all together.


First, when I mentioned Kmart, what did you envision? When I think of them or Walmart, I think light. In most cases, you can go there 24/7 and the lights are on. Without even closing your eyes, you can see that kind of light.

The same is true with computer and cell phone screens. They are light sources. Not only that, from what I’m told they both emit blue light. That’s not a bad thing, first thing in the morning, when you wake up. After all, that’s the kind of light the sun provides up until early afternoon. It lets your body know that it’s time to wake up and get moving.

Do you see the problem? If you’re constantly looking at a screen all day up until you go to bed, it’s effecting your sleep patterns. Maybe you’ve wondered why you can’t sleep lately. That may be the problem.

Now if you’re sleeping just fine, great. But if not, you need to make some changes. What if you limited your use to late afternoon/early evening. That wouldn’t mean you have to go without mental stimulation. You could listen to your podcasts or music at this time. Use it as a chance to improve your listening skills. You might even start getting ready for bed earlier and winding down. Light a candle, turn off cell phone notifications, etc. If you’re not getting it done during working hours, extending your workday is only going to make things worse.

The fact is, if you don’t tell your body what to do, it will tell you what to do. Erecting some walls will help you give your life some more definition.

I’ve been painting with oils lately and every day is a learning experience. While there are places in a painting where blending is required, paintings are really powerful when there are sharp distinctions and contrasts. Blend too much, and you end up with mud. The same is true in life, if you don’t make distinctions, you’ll end up with a muddy canvas. The good news in life and oil painting is that any mistake can be fixed. Instead of going through the motions and not expecting much from life, change your mindset. Changing how you think, changes what you do and life was meant to be more than a mudslide.

From Blue Light to Reading Retention

As a leader, one of the best ways to grow is reading. Not just anything, but subjects that will help you tackle some of the challenges you’re facing right now. Instead of trying to fix everything, pick the area that needs the most attention. Guess what? As you begin to attend to the areas in need of attention, your whole life will improve.

In fact, reading is a great way to spend the time you were spending on the computer and phone every night. As the adage goes, ‘Readers are Leaders!’. Not only is it effective, it’s one of the least expensive ways to educate yourself.

But obviously if you’re going to spend lots of time reading, it makes sense that you’re going to want to retain what you learn. Filing a book you’ve read for future reference is wonderful, but to really take your leadership to the next level, it will pay to work on your reading comprehension and retention. Then your powers are more than within arms reach, you’ll have them stored in your memory whenever they’re needed.

If you want to retain what you’ve read, stop highlighting so much and jotting notes in your margins. These aren’t bad practices by any means for future reference, but what you’re really telling yourself subliminally is: I’m not going to remember this, so I’d better write it down! There’s a better way.

Instead of highlighting and taking copious notes, write a question at the end of each chapter. Not just any old question, but one in which the required answer is a summary of the whole chapter or important ideas. As you go through the book, go back and answer the questions you wrote down. If you can’t, it’s obvious you’re not mastering the material. I discovered this idea while reading an article by Scott H. Young.

Do you see the progression from blue light to reading retention. There’s a difference when you mindlessly surf and when you make it a point to distill the information you are learning. If that sounds uncommon, it should. You aren’t looking to be just an average leader, you’re looking to go the distance and to go the distance, you have to stand out from the crowd.

Beyond Blue Light and Reading Retention to The Art of Empowerment

You may not realize it, but you are a very powerful leader! That’s not just flattery, it’s the truth. However, your power is of no value unless you use it.

I’m not an engineer or the son of an engineer, but I do know that power companies have vast reserves of power for the taking. As you can imagine, this power is worth a fortune. However, their power is worthless unless they share it with others.

But people have to pay for it. Of course! It’s a beautiful thing. You can purchase something that cost someone else a fortune to produce for a small investment.

Now of course there are two ways of looking at this. As a leader, you have vast reserves of power. That’s why they say you’re ‘in power’ as a leader. However, unless you share that power, it’s of no value whatsoever. Think about that.

SO what are you doing to give away your power? The tendency  is to keep all of your power and do everything yourself. Like they say, if you want something done right, do it yourself. But that’s not how leaders do things. Maybe your Dad or Mom said that, but if you take a moment and reflect, were they influential leaders?

The second way of looking at this is to look at it through the eyes of someone who serves a leader. If you’re a leader and you have no leader, there is a problem. Any way, although servants may not pay their leader with money, they do end up paying them. Their payment may take the form of respect, service, dedication and more. These things are just as valuable if not more than money.

So be like a farmer and fork out your power like manure and you’ll have a huge harvest. They more you shovel out, the greater the return. Yes, you need to have discernment, but in most cases the people around you are dying to be part of something bigger than themselves. So empower them to actively use the gifts God has given them and your influence and impact will soar!

The Thread that Runs Through Blue Light, Reading Retention and the Art of Empowerment

So what do blue light, reading retention and empowerment all have in common? Stewardship. At the end of the day, you’re in control when it comes to going the distance in your own life. You’re in control of your body, your mind and your leadership gifts. So why not maximize them for the glory of God? They’re all gifts. Use them well and God will give you more. In the meantime, what question do you need to write down that’s going to help you remember the key idea in this article? Please be sure to share it in the comments section below!