She is the person at church that you are afraid to ask “how are you today?” because you know it will not be a fun topic. The mood changes from all smiles to “Oh no! Here she is” when she walks in a room. She does not smile very much. She can always find a fault in someone. The weather is always too hot or too cold for her. The kids at your congregation are scared to death of her. The preacher can never deliver a lesson good enough for her. I am sure we all know someone who sounds like this. We will call her “Negative Nellie”! “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). As human beings, we are attracted to and would much rather be around people who have merry hearts. It brightens our days and makes us happy. Being around the “Negative Nellies” of the world make us feel dried out and depressed after spending time with them. So how can we deal with these gloomy, sad people in a Christian way?
*Get to know them.
This will, more than likely, be a hard task. You do not want to let their attitude get you down, but if you get to know their background, you might find why they are the way they are. Maybe they had a bad childhood. Maybe they had a family disaster. You may not find any reason for them to be a “downer,” but if you do find some reason, this will give you more understanding of where they are coming from. Even if you do not find a reason, this will still show that you care enough for them to actually spend the time to get to know them. We are to be compassionate to our fellow Christian brethren and show concern for them, even if they do not seem to deserve it. 1 Peter 3:8-9 says, “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” Even though this may not be a fun task and we might see it more as a chore, we are commanded to show compassion for one another and not return wrong for wrong. This will turn into a blessing for us!
Never let them bring you down with their negative attitude! If they say something mean about another person, say something nice about that same person. If they have a negative comment about the sermon, return with a positive comment about the sermon. As Christians, we should be the happiest people on this planet! 1 Peter 1:8 tells us, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” We need to make sure the joy we feel is shown to these negative people. Sadly, there are many negative people in the Lord’s church who do not fully understand what it is to be joyous. Happiness can be contagious, so maybe if you talk enough in a happy manner to these sad people, you can rub off on them!
*Pray for them.
James 5:16 commands us to pray for one another. If we know that a brother or sister in Christ is struggling, we should take the time to pray for them. Especially if their attitude has the ability to frustrate us or hurt us in any way, we need to pray for their sin and for how we are going to handle it. These negative people may sometimes feel like your enemies! “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)”. Even if we feel like they do not like us and can be rude to us, we are still commanded to pray for them. We can try to fix them all in every way we know how, but without God’s help it will not happen!
Negative Nellies can be hard to deal with and sometimes depressing to be around. But God never gave us any excuse to not show love and compassion to fellow human beings, even if they can be hard to deal with. We need to try our best to help these people and show them that they are the ones missing out with their negative attitude! God loves all of His children and we need to lead by example in showing that life can be full of happiness with God on our side!
By Alicia Bookout
Alicia and her husband, Garrett live in Clovis, NM where Garrett is the pulpit minister for 16th and Pile church of Christ. They have one sweet two-year old daughter, Emma. Alicia is a stay-at-home wife and mother. They both graduated from the Bear Valley Institute of Denver.