(image courtesy Timfly)
By Spencer D Gear PhD
I have failed miserably in personally dealing with this topic. Too often I have been angry towards the person who is rude and disrespectful.
Which rude behavior am I addressing? I am speaking of a person “not being polite; offensive or embarrassing” (Cambridge Dictionary 2021. “rude”) This dictionary gave these examples:
- He’s a very rude man.
- It’s rude not to say “Thank you” when you are given something.
- He’s got no manners – he’s rude to everyone.
- He shouted a collection of rude words at me and stormed off.
I live in Australia where swear words have become part of normal vocabulary. Nevertheless, how does one deal with rude and disrespectful words and action?
My normal approach
I customarily have said to the person, “Excuse me. That’s an unkind way to speak to me.” I consider I should add these elements:
· “Excuse me. That’s unkind language. Would you mind dropping out the “b” and “f” words entirely? At least that lets the person know I don’t appreciate the language. Even if he or she doesn’t change, at least he or she knows I would like them to change the language.
The Golden Rule
This is how I should treat others, even though I know I won’t do it perfectly: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 7:12 NIV). Luke’s version is: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31 NIV).
With the Lord’s help, that’s the easier part of the dynamic. Christian actions are part of the sanctification process.
The harder part: How to confront the rude.
Titania Paige wrote:
Dealing with rude people is something we all have to do. In the heat of the moment, when you’re about to “go hulk” on a perpetrator, it can be painstakingly difficult to react in a God glorifying way. Dealing with rude people is no longer a singular, face-to-face interaction either. No,no,no. You’ve got your: “rude-in-person-rude people;” “rude-on-social-media-rude people;” “rude-on-a-text-rude-people;” “rude-behind-your-back-rude-people.” The lists goes on and on my friend.
Titania presented six principles:
1. Don’t take it personally.
She cited Prov 29:11 (NLT): “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.”
When someone is being rude to you, remember that 99.9% of the time what is really bothering the agitator has nothing to do with you. Usually, the rude fellow is venting about something else, is in pain, or is generally just a rude person. The offender’s rude behavior does not reflect anything negative about you, rather it is a reflection of him or her. Keep in mind, that you yourself have said things to others or about others that were rude at some point.
2. Don’t fuel the flame.
Proverbs 15:1 (NIV) exhorts believers: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
When someone says something rude to you, maybe your first reaction is to deal with them on sight. I know mine is. You’re ready to hit them with something hard: words or fists, whichever comes first. (I’m not picky when I’m angry.) Solomon is speaking the truth here when he says, “a harsh word stirs up wrath.” As far as it depends on us, we are to live at peace with others. (Rom 12:8 ESV).
3. Show them grace.
But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you” Luke 6:27 (NLT). This is probably the last word we want to hear from God when somebody is being disrespectful to us. Notice how this response is radically different from what comes naturally. Grace leads to a gracious, loving, caring response.
4. Be patient & humble.
Whether I like it or not, I also have been rude and disrespectful to others. I have a bad habit of becoming angry, especially when another lies about a situation. I did this with a pastor who lied from the pulpit about James Arminius and his view on total depravity. The pastor, a TULIP Calvinist, preached that Arminius did not believe in total depravity. I got angry with the pastor after the service as Arminius did believe in total depravity. How I responded was ungodly, even though the pastor’s content was wrong.
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37 NIV).
Don’t change the standard for forgiveness when it comes to others. You want to be forgiven when you’re rude, right? Again, we never really know the circumstances of the people we run into, and what makes rude people do the things they do. But we do know that we ourselves have been shown grace by Christ and have been forgiven. That at least should motivate us to forgive others and choose grace over bitterness and revenge every time.
This article by Titania is full of gems of biblical wisdom. This is another example.
6. Pray for Humility.
When you pray to God for humility, you shouldn’t act surprised when he puts you in trying and humiliating situations. Being a secretary in general has taught me so much about humility and how to react when confronted with rude stereotypes and behaviors. In the beginning, I just felt angry and embarrassed when I felt disrespected, but those times have helped me see that I have a tendency to care more about “saving face” than seeing others saved through my witness as a Christian.
Don’t let your pride cause you to displease the Lord. Don’t be ruled by your emotions. You can forgive and bare with rude people because you have been forgiven.
It seems to me that a Christian response to the rude and disrespectful includes the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23 ERV): “But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things.”
(image courtesy needpix.com)
 “How to Deal with Rude People,” Blessed Transgressions, October 20, 2016, accessed 12 October 2021, https://blessedtransgressions.org/how-to-deal-with-rude-people/.
Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 12 October 2021.