As we have ministered to many over the years, we have learned that there are three areas that can be used to identify people. They are: 1) the wise, 2) the foolish, and 3) the one who is evil/toxic. Here are some things we have learned about each group, much of it from Dr. Henry Cloud in his book Necessary Endings © 2010 Published by HarperCollins, New York, NY.
The wise person is one who when presented with truth, takes it in. This person is hungry after the things of God, eager to learn more about Him and always willing to make corrections when they are called for…corrections like repentance and forgiveness for example. They are willing to listen when you speak into their lives and encourage them. They are quick to adjust their behavior when it is necessary and seek healing for their woundedness and strongholds. They will thank you for caring and sharing with them and ask you to pray for/with them. They ‘own their stuff’ and take responsibility for their issues without blaming others. They will thank you for caring enough to have a hard conversation with them. They will be concerned about how their behavior has affected others and be led by a spirit of repentance, not remorse (sorry I got caught). You will get the impression that they truly are sorry for their actions that may have hurt others and that they will be willing to go to those they have hurt and ask for their forgiveness. They will go into ‘problem solving mode’ and they will not allow their problems or issues to turn into patterns. THEY WILL CHANGE.
You can coach the wise person and sow into their lives and you will likely get a return on your investment. The bottom line with the wise person is that TALKING HELPS!
The foolish person does just the opposite of the wise person. They often reject and resist any feedback you offer. They will try and explain away any wisdom or truth shared and they definitely do not try and adjust to it. In truth, the foolish person will try to adjust the truth so he does not have to adjust to it. The fool when given feedback will become defensive and will come back at you with a reason why it is not their fault. Unlike the wise person with whom talking through problems strengthens your relationship, with the foolish, your attempts to talk through the problem creates conflict, alienation, or a breach in the relationship. Blame shifting is a top characteristic of the foolish and that blame may even be directed at you as they ‘shoot the messenger.’ The foolish will often attempt to minimize the issue or problem saying, ‘it’s not that bad’ or ‘it’s no big deal.’ The foolish will find every excuse in the book and never take ownership of the real problem or issue(s). Their emotional responses will have nothing to do with true, Godly repentance and they often get angry at you for ‘getting on their case.’ The foolish person has little to no awareness or concern for the pain they are causing others around them. They will seem oblivious to it and see others as the reason for the problem(s) or issue(s). The foolish person is very self-centered.
You cannot coach the foolish person. Talking about the problems or issues with the foolish person does not help at all, but you can and should share with them the consequences of their actions and/or words, then step away and let them experience those consequences. If you stay co-dependent with them, loving them too much for all the wrong reasons, you will only permit them to remain locked up in their rebellion and dishonor of others. Once the consequences have been set, step away and let them experience those consequences. It may be painful for you, but it will be productive for them! God will often offend the mind to get to the heart.
The evil, toxic person is completely locked up inside themselves. Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘toxic’ as extremely harsh, malicious or harmful. This person can change but only when God, Himself, steps into their lives. It will not happen by our giving in to them or by giving them another chance to hurt us. It happens when they finally are subject to limits that force them to change. Jail will do some people good!
Listed here are five levels or ways God will attempt to speak truth into the lives of every person:
1) The Lord, Himself, will speak to you by way of God the Father, Jesus His Son, or His Holy Spirit. If you do not respond to Him, then He will use
2) Your parents, siblings and other family members to attempt to speak truth into your life. If you are unresponsive at this level, He will use
3) Other trusted people in your life like a pastor, a teacher or a coach. If you continue to be unresponsive, He will use
4) Law enforcement – the police, a sheriff, or marshal and finally, if you continue to rebel and do not receive the truth at this level that you need to change, God will use
5) A judge in a court of law and incarceration.
Our Heavenly Father loves us very much and He desires that we respond to His prompting in our lives at level #1. This is His best for all of His creation. Unfortunately, most of us don’t listen and respond here and the further we go down the list of options, the harder it is on us and those who love us.
The bottom line in dealing with an evil, toxic person is to stay away, create firm, healthy, protective boundaries and if necessary, get help to do it. Unfortunately for some, it is a big step to realize that there are people in the world who hurt you – not unintentionally the way a foolish person does but because they want to hurt you. There are those out there who desire to hurt others and do destructive things. You must protect yourself and your loved ones from these kinds of people. Their intent is to bring you down. They are intentionally divisive and they enjoy it when others fail. It is their intent to go about trying to create the downfall of others.
As it is with most groupings of people, there are always what we call ‘cross-overs.’ This simply means that one doesn’t fall all of the time in one group or another, but we cross the lines of demarcation. Some days/seasons are worse than others and sometimes it takes more than one ‘dose of Holy Spirit’ for us to finally ‘get it.’ Change isn’t change until its change! There are times when we must see people for who they truly are, protect ourselves and create a necessary ending to the relationship, which means having nothing more to do with them. You can talk to the wise person about problems, and you can talk to the foolish about consequences, but you cannot talk to the evil, toxic person at all, period. “You can communicate with me through my attorney” is a phrase that exists for a reason. Blessing and honoring this type of person in prayer will bring powerful results. The spiritual strategy for DISHONOR is HONOR! Father’s promise to you is: “Blessed, (happy, to be envied and spiritually prosperous with life-joy and satisfaction, regardless of your outward conditions) are you when people revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things against you falsely on My account. Be glad and supremely joyful, for your reward in Heaven is great (strong and intense.) Matthew 5:11-12.
As with all our writings, we encourage you to find yourself within these three groups. ‘Where do I fall’ is a question we all need to ask ourselves. Most of all we need to ask Father, “How do YOU see me Lord with respect to these three categories and how do I need to respond?
We bless you all…the wise, the foolish and the evil/toxic one and we ask Father to bless all of you as well.