There are some books that I have never read, but that I think qualify for all-time brilliant title awards. My favorite is, “Normal is Just a Setting on Your Dryer.” Gotta love that. Captain John Trimmer blessed us with a tome entitled, “How to Avoid Big Ships” – a problem that each of us face on a daily basis. Sgt. Rick Pelicano authored, “Bombproof Your Horse.” In these days, everyone needs to be concerned about horse-terrorism issues, don’t we? The “Huh?” award goes to Brian Piddick’s “How to Write a How to Write Book.” P.L.H. McSweeny addressed one of life’s great challenges in, “Cheese Problems Solved.” And of course, there is the Gary Leon Hill classic about certain religious groups, “People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead.”
But one of the best comes from Christian counselor Paul Meier. “Don’t Let Jerks Get the Best of You.” It happens. If I have a church of 499 supportive Christians who love Jesus and serve him faithfully and there is one lady who is determined to prove that she is the queen of Jerkton, who do I spend most of focusing on? In any Christian group, there is going to be one (or perhaps two or more) big, fat, hairy, jerks wh0 do everything they can suck the joy out of life. And they seem to be amazingly effective at it.
And let’s admit that blogging serves as a haven for the genus jerkimus maximus. Really, what do you need to be involved in blogging? A computer, a big mouth, and the belief that what you have to say is worth others hearing. By definition, we are a group of blusterers. I was offended by Kevin Ezell’s comment about bloggers in housecoats, but honestly, he probably has a point. Maybe there is a little of the jerk in all of us on Blogspot and WordPress.
Jerks abound in the blogging world. They twist your words. They assume that they know your motives and tell you why you do the things you do, psychoanalyzing you in the process. They project their own jerkiness on others and paint those who disagree with them as somehow opposed to truth, justice and the American Way.
Now, let’s be honest. We are all jerks at times. Any of us who has been blogging for any length of time have a few moments for which we would like to have do-overs. Someone pushed my buttons and I went off like a Roman Candle. Instead of addressing the topic, I let it become about me and my hurt feelings.
The source of our jerkiness is no surprise. Paul told us in Galatians 5:19 that “the works of the flesh are evident.” We all have jerkosity dwelling in us. It is overcome and subdued by the fullness of the Spirit and the fruit that he produces in us. But when we fail to walk in the Spirit, our jerkful nature seeps to the surface quickly. Here are some of the things Paul says are the evident works of the flesh, the fruit of our jerkitude,
“enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy…”
Enmity – the tendency to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ as enemies. Strife – a love for arguing, division, and quarreling. Jealousy. Fits of anger – when our words flow from injured pride instead of athe glory of God. Rivalries, dissensions, divisions – dividing down into “us vs. them” schisms. Envy. Paul said the works of the flesh are evident. They are also evident in blogdom.
I think we all know how we should handle those moments when we ARE the jerks. Retract. Reword. Repent. Humble ourselves and make it right. But how do we respond to jerks and their jerkilicious words? How do we NOT return jerkitude for jerkitude? How can we walk in joy and godliness when we become the target of blogging jerkishness?
The Bible gives us some clear hints about this.
1) Humility is the key.
I have a friend who is a well-known charismatic pastor and author. He used to say that when we are truly walking in the Spirit, we are unoffendable. The more my blogging is about me, the more quickly I am offended and strike back at those who insult me, defending my honor and seeking my glory.
I remember once when I had a jerk overload. A blogger insulted me and those who shared my view. I went off and fired off a series of angry comments to him. I still think his comment was wrong and unfair. But why did I become such a jerk at that moment? He offended me. My feelings were hurt. My pride was injured.
The more it is about me, about making a name for myself, about gaining status and popularity, the more I will respond to jerks in kind. If I am walking in humility, I can overlook the insults, forgive the injury and continue to walk in joy.
2) Don’t return evil for evil.
I believe every word of the Bible, but there are some stories that strain credulity. I’m not talking about the Red Sea parting, the sun standing still or Jesus walking on water. If God made the world he can do miracles in that world. No big surprise. But the story of David and Shimei in 2 Samuel 16 is hard to believe. David acts so contrary to human nature that only extreme godliness can explain it. As David was fleeing from Absalom, at the lowest point of his life, His Royal Jerkness Shimei showed up to heap some condemnation on David. “Get out, you man of blood.” God, according to Shimei, was paying David back for his mistreatment of the house of Saul. Shimei was emboldened by circumstances to release the full weight of his bitterness and jerkitation against David.
The thing is, it was all wrong. Shimei’s accusations were false. David was kind to Saul. He returned good for evil. Twice he could have killed Saul and did not. He protected Mephibosheth. No matter how dogmatic and self-righteous Shimei was, he was dead wrong.
And David had friends. Friends with swords. “Let us go over their and shut ol’ Jerky Jerk up,” they said. But David stopped them. Let him have his say, David demanded. Maybe God is speaking through him, and if not, then God will deal with him.
Romans 12:14-21 says it all.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Paul’s words are the best antidote for the venom of rattlejerks.
3) Walk away.
You do not have to answer every jerkified comment or accusation that comes your way. A few months back, a blogger wrote a lengthy and negative analysis of my character on another site. It hurt and it made me mad. I was ready to respond and tell him how wrong he was when it hit me. Why? If I am what he says I am, I shouldn’t respond. If I am not what he says I am, I have no need. God said that vengeance belongs to him. If I try to repay, to balance the books, I am standing in the place of God.
So, I just didn’t respond. And the whole thing died down. Sometimes, the best thing to do is walk away. One thing I have learned from years of blogging. Words can hurt, but unless I respond, they cannot really injure me.
When a jerk is trying to get the best of you, often the best response is just to walk away and let it be.
One of my favorite lines is from a Po Folks restaurant menu. “Never rassle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”
Those who desire to honor Christ with their blogging will not desire to rassle with jerkine creatures. Jerks are comfortable down in the mud, where Spirit-filled Christians have no desire to go.
When the jerks want to get down in the mud, just walk away clean.
4) Keep on keeping on.
If I didn’t think I could make a difference – a positive one, a Christ-honoring one at that – I wouldn’t blog. When a jerk says that everything you do is evil, it hurts. And when that happens, my initial response is to want to run away, to give up, to quit.
But if you do that, the jerks win. A lot of good people with good things to say have walked away from blogging because the jerks got them down.
If you write because it is a calling, then opposition and criticism should not stop you.
5) Be Nice to the Jerk
You know what, most of the jerks I’ve known really want to be better. I think of one of the jerks I’ve had the privilege of pastoring. He was so hard to deal with – half of the gray hairs on my head came from him! But as I got to know him, I realized a couple of things. He really wanted to be loved and accepted. He was programmed by his childhood to respond to life with extreme jerkicity. I won’t say he couldn’t help himself, but all of life was just more of a struggle for him than for others. The more I got to know about his upbringing, the more I understood why he was what he was.
But, when Jesus told us to love our enemies, he wasn’t kidding. He not only told us to love them, he told us to bless them, pray for them and seek their spiritual prosperity. That ain’t easy! But it is a command of the Father. Love your enemies. Bless those who persecute, bless and do not curse.
Maybe you have some better advice than I have given here.
But don’t let the jerks get the best of you, friends. Don’t let them ruin your joy in Jesus. Don’t let them stop you from the work God has called you to do – wherever you are; home, work, church or blogdom. Keep on keeping on.
And don’t let the Jerks get you down.