It happens to any human that lives to be the age of ten. Sooner or later someone is going to hurt your feelings. Maybe they make fun of something you are wearing. Or a group of friends goes out to eat together and you are left out. Or maybe the attacks are much worse. Maybe someone attacks your character or says something about you that is not true. How do we deal with this? What is our normal course of action?
The honest truth is that Christians do not handle conflict very well. Too often we either do nothing at all, trying to avoid any form of conflict, or our emotions propel us to overreacting. Isn’t it interesting that the church is made up of individuals—many of whom have trouble getting along—and yet our pulpits often remain silent about what to do when you get your feelings hurt? I think many of the “problems” we have in the church today could be fixed or avoided if we would just spend some time discussing hurt feelings.
Here’s what I intend to teach my children regarding getting their feelings hurt.
You will get your feelings hurt. In fact, I’ve probably already been one of the ones to hurt your feelings. Congratulations—welcome to the human race. This is one of those things that you will deal with the rest of your life, because people are not perfect.
The first thing I want you to do the next time you get your feelings hurt is to stop and ask yourself if you are really all that important. Part of the reason our feelings are hurt is because someone offended us—which means we probably have a pretty high view of ourselves. “How dare them do that to me?!” Or, “How dare them say that about me?!” Before you ask questions like that, check yourself—and remind yourself that you are not God or His sinless Son. In fact, what you are is a sinner in need of a spotless sacrifice. Don’t forget that.
Second, do your best to treat the offending person the way you would want to be treated. In Matthew 7:12, Jesus commanded, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” This is a tough one, because if you feel hurt your normal tendency may be to lash out or punish the offender. Treat them how you would want to be treated. Because the reality is you may not know the entire situation. How many times are people wrestling with things (e.g., sickness, death of a loved one, stress at work, etc.) and you have little to no knowledge of it. Yes, they may have hurt your feelings—but you just be the recipient of something that is even more troubling in their life. It doesn’t excuse their behavior, but hopefully you might be able to better understand and be more compassionate.
Third, follow Biblical principles. The Bible has advice to both those who are offended and those who offend. In Matthew 18:15 Jesus admonishes, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” So have the courage to talk to them. Likewise, in Matthew 5:23-24 we read, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Sadly, when someone hurts us we expect them to do what Scripture says and come to us, but rarely do we go to them as Jesus recorded in Matthew 18. Both parties have a responsibility. Part of the reason I wanted you to first ask yourself if you were that important is to check your pride. Pride has stopped more relationships from healing than probably any other issue. Swallow your pride and talk to the person. You might be surprised at how quickly something can be cleared up when you just sit down and talk.
Lastly, remember these are just your feelings. The Bible records in Jeremiah 17:19 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” Some people want to “speak their mind” when their feelings get hurt. However, what you should be doing is speaking the mind of Christ. At the end of the day God is what matters. Do not allow your hurt feelings to slow you down from your ultimate purpose. Satan would love for Christians to be caught up in petty feuds over hurt feelings. This one is a tough one—and you will have to constantly be working on it. Just remember when you lay your head on your pillow that even if all your friends make fun of you, there is still a God in heaven who loves you!
By Brad Harrub, Ph.D.
Dr. Brad Harrub is the director and co-founder of Focus Press. He has authored and co-authored numerous books, including “Convicted,” “Engage,” and “Heart of the Matter.” Brad and his wife, Melinda, and their children Will, Reese, Claire, and Luke reside in Franklin, TN. You can find his full bio here.