He Wanted to Make Him Curse - 6 Steps for Working with Unbelievers

"My goal in life is to make you curse."

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These were the words my friend Daniel's coworker Terry spat at him as they worked together in the warehouse. Terry knew Daniel was a Christian and took great delight in provoking him until he lost his temper. His goading was a daily thing, and sometimes Daniel grew weary.

It is the rare Christian who works in an environment surrounded by believers. Most of us share the workplace with the unsaved. While some are respectful and appreciative of our faith, many, like Daniel's coworker, seem to delight in making life difficult.

Vexed and frustrated, we wonder how to handle difficult coworkers and still maintain our Christian witness. Thankfully, Scripture gives good words of advice for dealing with the challenging colleagues who share our cubicles.

1. Don't be surprised by their sinfulness. We can't expect non-Christians to act like Christians. Somedays, even Christians struggle to act like Christians. When we're dealing with difficult people, it helps to remember that the natural behavior of the unsaved is to sin. While some clean up better than others, without the Holy Spirit living inside them, they have no supernatural power with which to live holy lives.
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2.  Remember how you behaved before Christ saved you. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthian church, pens a long list of sinful behaviors: sexual immorality, wickedness, idolatry, adultery, prostitution, homosexuality, theft, drunkenness, greed, slander, and dishonesty. 

Then he reminds the church, "that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Remembering our own lifestyles apart from Christ's transforming power is humbling. When we are humble before others, we're less likely to be prideful and judgmental. 

3. Live so they have nothing evil to say about you (or the God you represent). Paul encouraged Titus, "In everything, set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us" (Titus 2:7-8). 

4.  Act in love toward your enemies, "do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you" (Luke 6:27-28). There is no moral or spiritual victory in repaying evil for evil; this is easy for our human nature. When we respond in ways that are contrary to what our nature desires, however, we demonstrate God's power at work in us.

Practical ways of applying this principle is to go the extra mile to help our difficult coworkers. When they curse or berate us, take a deep breath, pray for God's grace, and speak words of kindness (or silence) in response. If they say something critical, respond with a word of blessing. Many who abuse others with their speech were similarly abused themselves. You may be the only person in their lives who speaks kindly to them. This is very difficult to do, but not impossible with God's help (Philippians 4:13).

5.  When you blow it, (and you will), apologize and ask for forgiveness. A humble, sincere apology is rare and profound in our world today.

6.  Pray for them. Although my enemies are the last people in the world for whom I naturally want to pray, scripture commands it (Luke 6:28). As I've prayed for the difficult people with whom I've worked, sometimes God changes their hearts. He always changes mine. William Law says, "Nothing makes us love a man so much as praying for him."

Working with difficult people gives us daily opportunities to model Christ. As we behave in ways that are contrary to our nature, we are living examples of authentic Christianity.
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One day Daniel noticed that Terry was absent from work. He later learned that Terry's nephew had been killed in a tragic accident. 

Upon his return, Daniel expressed his sympathy, offered to pray for Terry's family, and shared a story about his own brother's recent death. At the end of the conversation, with tears in their eyes, both men embraced in an awkward hug.

Every year at Christmas, our church puts on an elaborate holiday performance to share the hope of Jesus with our unsaved neighbors and friends. Guess who sat on the front row of this year's performance? 


Do you have a coworker, associate, or friend who seems to delight in making your life difficult? Will you commit, in faith, to apply one of the six steps above to your relationship beginning today?

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  1. I really appreciate this post, I am a new Christian so I remember very clearly what it was like to be unsaved. Thank you for the easy to follow steps that can help remove the stones from between our Father and his lost sheep. Have a blessed day. Tara.

    1. Tara, you're in a very powerful place -- you are close enough to the unsaved community that you still have relationships with people who don't know the Lord yet. What a position of influence! I just prayed for you, that the Lord will give you divine appointments through which you can share your personal testimony about what the LOrd has done for you. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. Anonymous1:53 AM

    This is simply one of the best blog posts I've read in a long time. It is concise, yet full of meaning and impact, practical, and biblically based. This deserves a wide read. I'm going to plug it on Family Fountain.

    1. Thank you, Warren, for your kind words and willingness to share my thoughts with your readers. May God glorify himself through the sharing of his Word.

  3. Lori, I agree with Warren, this is a wonderful post. I just heard a great message on Luke 6:27-28. When we bless those that curse us, we do that which is virtually impossible without the Lord. It's like shining a spotlight on the goodness of God... and people are drawn to that light.
    I'm so thankful for Daniel's faithfulness and Tom's change of heart.
    Blessings to you ~ Mary

    1. Mary, that is absolutely beautiful -- shining a spotlight on the goodness of God. It is truly supernatural to respond to hate with love, but this is what God did, and he has placed his Spirit inside us, so we can do the same. Thanks for chiming in today :)

  4. Great tips, Lori! Thanks for sharing at Thriving Thursday.

  5. Thanks, Lori, for sharing your wisdom re ways we can witness and stand firm in God's love to those unsaved all around us. I'm going to try to send this on to my SS class.
    God's Continued Blessings on Your Ministry!

  6. How sad that this man had nothing better to do with his time than to try and make your friend curse. But how wonderful you have given us some pointers (for those times when we all forget) on how to show others a better way.

    Following from the Matrimonial Mondays hop.

  7. Terry,
    Thanks for sharing these points about difficult coworkers. Whatever our challenges, God always has the answers for us in His Word, doesn't He?

  8. This is a real encouragement. It especially made me think of our young people who are working with unbelievers after growing up in Christian homes. I pray that the Lord would strengthen their hearts so that they are a strong testimony.

    Thanks for sharing this with me, Lori.