The only way to avoid having to deal with difficult people—is to move to another planet. Human beings are a mixture of vices and virtues, and unless you understand that, you won’t be able to work or live with them successfully. The story’s told of a monk who joined a monastery and took a vow of silence. Once a year he was invited to appear before the abbot, and he was permitted to say one thing. After the first year when he was asked what he had to say, he replied, ‘The bed’s too hard!’ At the end of the second year when he was asked, he responded, ‘The room’s too cold.’ At the end of the third year he was asked the same question. He replied, ‘The food’s terrible. I quit.’ At that point the abbot smiled with relief and said, ‘Thank goodness! Because you’ve done nothing but complain since you got here!’ Think about it: even if you joined a monastery you’d still have to deal with difficult people! So what can you do? Learn from the farmer. He plants, pulls weeds, and cultivates, knowing the harvest will eventually come if he patiently keeps doing these things. It’s one of the reasons James writes, ‘My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.’ (James 1:19–20 NIV) There are no shortcuts. The only way to have a good relationship is to work at it and be patient. When you do, God will bless that relationship.