Mean is just mean.
“MEAN people exhaust me.” You can fill in the specifics:
- My mother exhausts me.
- My child exhausts me.
- Politicians exhausts me.
- My boss exhausts me.
You get the picture.
For me personally, I was super exhausted all of 2022. And earlier this week, I got a phone call from a client, and I’ll say it – he was mean. Most of the time when I speak to him, he’s just not a very nice person. He’s just mean.
So right after the call I said “Lord, mean people exhaust me.” And the Holy Spirit said, instantaneously, “You’re not alone.” Hence, I’m writing to all of you who can relate to being exhausted from your dealings with mean people.
And just to define the terms, the word “mean” is defined as: unkind; spiteful; unfair; vicious; aggressive in behavior.
So, what makes some people so mean? Where does this mean behavior stem from? Well, in my experience the behavior stems from people feeling like they are not in control, or they have a fear of being exposed for something. It also stems from PRIDE (me/me/me/me) and PRIDE always stems from UNGODLINESS (putting yourself first before God).
Yep. I went there.
Last year, it seemed like everything I said, everything I did, was met with unkind and unfair (very unfair) behavior. At first, I prayed. I prayed a lot and then I would let the issue go.
But by May/June, I just couldn’t take it anymore. My emotions got the best of me. Just like Romans 3:10, 23, and 8:5 state – I too have a sinful nature. I was born selfish with a desire to gratify myself at any expense. I too, can behave “meanly” because I too, sometimes do not control my own evil tendencies (Romans 7: 14-20).
So, what did I do? Yep. On a video conference call – I cried, I sobbed, I pointed fingers, I threw daggers, and yes, I threw out (sorry dear Jesus), some f-bombs!!
Yep, I did that. I bet you are thinking right now, “No way! Not my Christian sister! Not this pillar of Christianity!!!”
Yep, me, I did that. And it was UGLY.
And then I went there again.
And if that was not enough, I let it all rip again in October/November. Yep, video conference call again. Sobbing, hyper-ventilating, f-bombs, the whole sha-bang.
So, why am I sharing this with you? Because as followers of Jesus Christ we need to understand, not only the sinful nature of others, but also our own sinful nature. And as followers of Jesus Christ, we need to try our best to BEHAVE like Jesus – even with mean people.
As Christians, we are in covenant with Jesus, and if we are in covenant with Jesus, then we are in covenant with people. People have been created in the image of God, you and I, who are in Christ, are the Image of God in its full expression.
It takes work not to be mean to a mean person.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I must intentionally WORK at being Christ-like. I was exhausted in 2022 because I had to intentionally work at NOT acting out my first impulses, aka – NOT letting my sinful nature rule me. I clearly didn’t always win that battle!
Being Christ-like takes work. Though Jesus says, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30), the Bible also says, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Being Christ-like takes work because:
- I want revenge; Jesus says to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15)
- I want to be first; Jesus says we are blessed if we choose to be last (Mark 9:35)
- I want to fight; Jesus says blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)
- I want to exalt myself; Jesus says to seek humility (Matthew 23:12)
- I want to gossip; the Bible says guard our mouths (Proverbs 13:3)
- I want to be rude; the Bible says our speech should be gracious (Colossians 4:6)
Mean people exhaust me because it takes work for me to NOT act on my sinful impulses, which is to be mean right back.
How to get better.
So, what do we do? What can help reduce the stress/the exhaustion/the pain/the hurt/the disappointment/the fear/the anger we feel when we encounter mean people:
- PRAY. It’s that simple. Just pray because it’s how you cultivate a vibrant relationship with Jesus.
- READ YOUR BIBLE. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given us EVERYTHING we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him.” Wait. What? Everything? Through our knowledge of Him? So, read your Bible to get to know Jesus and so that His words can abide in you.
- GET ACCOUNTABILITY. You need to make yourself accountable to others in the Body of Christ (your brothers and sisters in Christ). So, join a group. Get a spiritual mentor!! Just don’t go it alone.
You may not be able to change the “mean” person or circumstance, but you CAN change “YOU” and change how YOU react and treat others.
Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
Our struggle is real, but it’s not permanent.
And remember, YOU may be the only “JESUS” those mean people see and experience. So, be intentional. Do the work. Love God. Love People.