Sometimes, best course of action for us to take with some relationships is to walk away . . . or let the other person walk away. In the Gospels, we discover that Jesus never gave chase to those who left. He didn't run after people who rejected him and try to change their minds or bargain with them so they would again follow him. He did not feel obligated to try to convince unreasonable people to see the truth that he was provided. And, perhaps most important, he didn't allow anyone to distract him or interfere with the mission that God had given to him. We can follow Jesus' example to walk away from toxic people and walk toward healthy relationships that will encourage us, strengthen us, and build us up. And as we do, it frees us to focus completely on the purpose that God has established for our lives.
Satan knows that he can’t stop God’s fresh water from flowing through you, so he tries to get you to pour it down the drain of toxic people rather than onto the fertile fields of teachable and thirsty people. The hearts of some people were not changed by the actual Messiah when he walked on this earth . . . so who are we to think that our efforts can fix every broken person we encounter?
When we recognize a toxic person, we can set boundaries, put defenses in place, and walk away in a way that is both firm and as gracious as possible. One key in this process is learning that we will all encounter people who are difficult, irritating, needy, and demanding . . . but who are not actually toxic. Learn to discern the difference, so you know when to stick around and when to walk away.
Christ died so we can share in his mission of bringing heaven to earth. You do this when you fulfill your calling as a son or daughter, spouse, parent, grandparent, friend, employee, employer, or neighbor. If you allow a toxic person to beat you down and consume your energy and time, you may be prevented from fulfilling your divine mission on earth.
When you know the tactics of toxic people, you can prepare a good defense to keep yourself strong. Some of their tactics include lies, threats, enlisting others, gossip, pretending to be your friend, intimidation, shame, playing the religious card, and distraction from what God wants you to do. Develop a plan to resist these attacks, and practice responding in a gracious but firm manner.
Jesus is clear that there are some people we should not invest our energy and spiritual capital into. Their lives, attitudes, and behaviors make it unwise and even dangerous for us to minister to them. Jesus warns us that these people will actually turn on us, attack us, and try to "tear us to pieces." We want to think the best of everyone, but if we don't tell the truth with an accurate label, we can't get to the root issue. We risk harming ourselves.
Family ties and friendships are important. but, above all relationships, our commitment to Jesus must come first. When it does, we have the courage to walk away from any toxic relationship, no matter how close we are to the person. Jesus was clear that sometimes faith and family will conflict. When this happens, faith always wins.