A young brother and sister were squabbling somewhat. Their father notices, asking what’s going on.
With adrenaline fully flowing, the kids share, “We don’t agree! We don’t get it, Dad. Who should we look up to? Who should be our friend?”
Their father, with a softened grin, recognizing the opportunity, then directs his kids to sit with him for a moment… and graciously, candidly, responds…
“Kids, there are three kinds of people in this world. Allow me to teach you — first, the one who is easiest, the one you should seek out, get to know, and spend tons of time with.
First is the person who is wise.
The wise person desires truth. They may not always be happy-happy, but within them is this sense of inner joy that is never distrait or derailed. They have peace — even when life around them is crumbling or chaotic. They are not moved; they are not shaken.
What should we do with a wise person?
Lean in, kids. Spend more time with them. Even in disagreement, you can know and trust a wise person; you can trust their character. They are not perfect — but they know that; hence, when/if they discern they’ve made a mistake or been wrong, they will clarify, apologize, even ask for forgiveness, if necessary. You can trust in who they are.
The second example is a little harder. The second person is the one who is foolish.
The foolish person denies truth. They want to live in the bubble that their experience actually serves as the truth — and nothing but the truth… as if it also serves as everyone else’s reality. While we may love these persons dearly, you know who they are when you think about how they would react if you would share constructive feedback with them. The foolish person struggles with feedback — often even despising it. The foolish one typically speaks first and listens last. They may lash out at you.
So what should we do with a foolish person?
Learn to set healthy boundaries. Consider limiting your advice, limiting your vulnerability with them, and limiting your exposure.
But as your father, I’d also encourage you to pray for them; don’t get puffed up — as kids, you and I know well, that we have often been foolish, too.
The third kind of person is the hardest to wrestle with. Sadly, the third person is one who is wicked.
The wicked person destroys truth. They don’t care what’s true and what’s not; in fact, they tend to weaponize whatever they can to work against what’s true. The end may justify the means for them; they may intentionally dishonor another, if that person competes with their purpose.
Kids, hear me. This one’s really hard. Yes, we are each called to love one another, and that means loving another well. But be careful with the wicked; they are really out there. Figuring out how to love them well is tricky.”
Kids, listening intently, in unison and immediate response: “But Dad, what do we do with them?”
Back to their father, with a sobering, extended pause…
But don’t walk away and never think of them again. Don’t walk away and think ‘we are done forever.’ But be ok putting some distance between you and them. Pray for them. Be humble. And beg God to change their heart.
God is capable of changing hearts… just as he has done for you and me.”
The kids begin to stroll away, with no more dispute, but wondering…
With whom do I need to spend more time?
With whom do I need to set healthy boundaries?
And… maybe the hardest question…
What kind of person am I?