I don’t know if we are ever really supposed to be this honest, but sometimes in life we might be asked to disciple or do one-to-ones with someone who’s just not our “cup of tea”! The temptation when faced with this situation is to say no and ask someone else to do it. The reality is though, at church, we use nice, polite phrases to excuse ourselves from the task—I don’t think we’d quite gel. I think our schedules would clash too much. I really think she would grow with someone else who would understand her situation better.
Actually, I have heard multiple polite and very Christian versions of this over the years (in fact, I’ve employed a few of them myself). But the truth is, it always makes me sad. When we shy away from these potentially difficult situations, we shy away from an opportunity God has given us to be challenged, changed, and sanctified. This situation says a lot about your character.
I love doing one-to-ones but, I love scheme girls who are feisty, in your face, and always asking hard questions. I like the ‘radges’ (we’d call them). I know, it’s a Scottish word that doesn’t really translate well—“a real character”, some might say, or “a complex nut job”. I would use my favourite ice cream analogy and say they are “Rocky Road” and not “Vanilla”—nothing else descriptively does justice.
Differences Are Difficult
I am, however, not very good or patient with high maintenance, seriously needy, drama-queen suburbanites. My daughter tells me it’s called doing a “Karen”. As I looked at her incredulously, she said “I promise, it’s a thing.” So, quoting from the ultimate fount of all reliable knowledge (read: the internet), a “Karen” is a “pejorative term used in the English-speaking world for someone perceived as entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is appropriate or necessary. A common stereotype is that of a woman who uses her privilege to demand her own way at the expense of others.” Apparently, it comes from a popular meme on the internet that has flown passed me, thankfully.
I don’t know any Karens that meet this description. My point is simply this: faced with someone that fits this stereotype, my natural response is to avoid them like the plague, as she would grate on my every last nerve. If I had my way, I’d basically ask Miriam McConnell to deal with them because she’s much better and way more patient. I could even make it happen without anyone knowing that my sinful heart was scheming in the background. This, however, is sinful and short-sighted. A situation like this reveals a lot about one’s maturity and character.
I know my strengths and weaknesses but, if I only did one-to-ones with women that are like me, then I’d never have the opportunity to learn from those who are different. I’d never have the opportunity to be convicted of my judgemental, self-righteous, selfish, shallow, narrow-minded attitudes towards them, and I wouldn’t grow in patience, love, mercy, and grace. In short, I’d miss out on real Christian maturity simply because I wanted an easy life.
Differences Are Good
Years ago, when we first started doing the whole one-to-one thing, I was asked to spend time with someone I would have said clearly wasn’t “my cup of tea.” She was lovely and all that, but not for me. To be fair, I was probably her worst nightmare of a one-to-one also. In reality, I would have done anything but meet with this person one-to-one. But, checking my wrong attitude, I agreed to meet her weekly.
We were two completely different types of people, and I’m not going to lie to you: it wasn’t without its difficulties to work through. Over time, however, my heart changed. I learnt so much about her and also myself. She might not have started as “my cup of tea,” but the Lord worked in my heart and I started to appreciate her. I saw her gifts and how the Lord used her to change me. I’d have missed out on so much if I’d have taken the easy (sinful) route. I’m grateful for the women who didn’t do the same to me.
How Will You Respond?
When I think about this, I’m always reminded of the few days after Paul’s conversion in Acts 9:10–17, when the Lord set up Ananias with Paul. From what we know of Saul, we can understand Ananias’ reticence—he’d heard about this man and knew that he was dangerous. Way more than a feeble personal dislike for a ‘type,’ Ananias had serious and real concerns. Saul killed Christians after all! But, God commanded him and Ananias went.
Maybe God is nudging you to get alongside someone a bit different from you? To get out of your comfort zone? Maybe she’s clingy, even annoying, but she needs to be discipled. How will you respond? Will you step up or step aside?