Sometimes I displease people, and sometimes people displease me. The result is unhappiness, annoyance, irritability, even anger. It happens all the time with each us every day or so.
When we’re involved in a project or experience that raises our enthusiasm and gets us deeply involved, we become passionate about it. We believe our ideas about what to do are good, even among the better ideas expressed at a meeting or in an encounter. We begin to expect everyone else to follow our wise thoughts. When they don’t, we’re displeased with them or with the outcome. Irritating! to them and to ourselves!
Displeasure is always a two way street. If I’m unhappy with the way another person behaves, it’s more than likely because I’m proud of my own behavior. If he assumes that our project should follow his plan, it’s more than likely that he’s upset with my actions or thoughts, or at least, with what he perceives to be my unwillingness to listen to his input. Unhappiness cuts both ways.
We should all want to be less displeasing to the people around us, especially if we belong to Jesus Christ and have pledged ourselves to follow his lifestyle. But not even Jesus managed to please everybody! The Pharisees and Sadducees were irate with him regularly, yet they were after the same thing as Jesus—they wanted people to follow God’s way more closely.
If I decide not to irritate people, I must make it a deliberate choice. I have to decide not to upset others, then I can make sure I’m not blatant as I express my opinions or push for my agenda. I can listen carefully to what others propose or to what they’ll commit themselves to accomplish. I can weigh the reasons why they express themselves as they do and look for the wisdom in their proposals. If I’m viewed as cooperative and willing to bend, others will find me a pleasure to deal with. Plus, more of what I think we should do will actually get done, even if not in the way I suggest.
Yet there are people with whom I will disagree or circumstances where I will agitate others no matter what I do or say. Then I will have to judge whether I should dig in my heels and not budge or should lift them up and be carried along with the flow. Either alternative can be good and wise and productive. The point is the work gets done without people getting frustrated or being displeased with others.
When displeasure does occur, it’s also important for me, and the others involved, not to grow dissatisfied with each other as people. We should come away maintaining our friendship. How can we do this? By using the best principles of Christian discipleship. We can forgive. Forgiveness short-circuits displeasure. We can pray, which means recognizing that no individual among us has the best answers all the time. Ultimately, we depend on the heavenly Father to dispense his wisdom through our collective “bargaining” process. As we discuss, choose, and carry out his plans, we will succeed. We will also come away feeling a great pleasure in our fellowship and mutual service in Jesus’ name.