How to Deal with Difficult People and Relationships During the Holidays

How to Deal with Difficult People and Relationships During the Holidays


Day 20: Read Luke Chapter 20

A Listening Heart

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Christmas is a time of celebration.

I look forward to celebrating it with my family. Before everyone arrives, I have fun preparing for the holidays. I wrap gifts, decorate the Christmas tree, and plan the menu for our gathering. In my mind, I have a pretty good picture of how I think things will go. Until everyone arrives and my neatly made plans suddenly unravel. 

Have you ever had to change your plans when your family and friends gather during the holidays? 

Maybe you’ve had to change your plan because of disappointments, unmet expectations, difficult people, or disagreeable personalities. They can take the joy out of holidays and family celebrations.

Staying calm and Dealing with Difficult people during the holidays

Some Jewish leaders were displeased with Jesus. They didn’t like his message and what he stood for. So, they sent some spies to ask him about paying taxes. 

Teacher, they said, “we know that you speak and teach what is right and are not influenced by what others think. You teach the way of God truthfully. Now tell us—is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Luke 20:21

It didn’t matter how Jesus responded. These men were looking for an opportunity to trap Jesus so they could arrest him. But Jesus saw through their deception and chose his response wisely. After asking them to show him a coin, he told them to “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Luke 20:24-25

Instead of trapping Jesus, they were amazed by his response, and they became silent. Jesus shows us how to be wise and discerning in responding to disagreeable people. 

You and I can expect things to go differently than we expect or hope during the holidays. I like Jesus’ response, … Give to God what is God’s. That’s going to be my approach this holiday. 

How to Deal with Difficult People and “…give to God what is God’s.”

Dealing with Difficult people during the holidays and staying calm

During our family time, there’ll be folks who see things differently than you and me. Some may misjudge our motives or character, or maybe another responds with anger and hurt. Or start a controversial topic that creates drama, conflict, and arguments.

You and I will be wise to look at Jesus’ example and not take the offense bait. Instead, let’s give to God what is God’s

What belongs to God in our relationships, and what does that look like?

  • Love for God. You and I are commanded to love God and our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). We show our love for God by how we love others. This is my guide for interacting with everyone, including my family. 
  • Pray before your family arrives. Psalm 24 is my favorite prayer to bless my family’s celebration. Ask God’s peace and presence over your interactions and communication. 
  • Speak the truth in love but avoid getting entangled in foolish arguments (2 Timothy 2:23). To avoid getting caught in unnecessary conflict, I apply a 2-feet rule. I set a boundary for myself to walk away from foolish arguments. 
  • Extend Grace. Instead of responding harshly to the spies, Jesus kept a calm spirit and was gracious. His response left the people amazed and speechless. Sometimes people are going to be disrespectful. You and I will be wise to respond calmly (Proverbs 15:1). 
  • Let go. Remember that picture you and I had in mind of how things should be during our holiday preparation? Let it go. My practical tip here is to choose to enjoy and celebrate the diversity in your family. Set out the food, plates, and silverware and let them serve themselves. Allow them to mingle as they choose. Choose to enjoy yourself as well… maybe catch up with your favorite cousin or aunt. 

Jesus is the reason for the season. He came to give us what we don’t deserve. Jesus came to provide us with salvation, unmerited grace, abundant life, and freedom from sin and death. Let’s not allow sour attitudes and unmet expectations to rob us of joy this Christmas. 

What helps you deal with conflict and difficult people during the holidays? Share in the comments

Prayer: Lord, thank you for sending Jesus as the Savior of the world. Please bless my family and friends in our interactions and communications. Help us to put our differences aside and remember Jesus, the reason for our celebration. Take all the glory, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Well then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” Luke 20:25

Day 20: This post is part of the Come Away with Jesus Christmas Challenge.

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