How to be less of a Jerk

If you’re reading this, you’re probably not a jerk.

Why? Because jerks aren’t usually thoughtful or proactive about how they relate to other people. That’s kind of the problem.

Instead, they’re off saying flippant and insensitive comments to someone in the office, stealing candy from a baby, or carelessly flicking lit cigarette butts close to other people’s cars at the gas station.

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The people who are reading this post most likely fall into one of three categories:

(a) Those who are simply curious or procrastinating
(b) Those who have to deal with jerks on a regular basis
(c) Those who have a sneaking suspicion that they can sometimes get annoying and want to safeguard themselves from wading too far into Jerk Territory

It’s really this third group that I’m writing to. After all, it’s usually the people who want to be thoughtful about how they relate to others that are the ones who do something about it.

So let me first offer a definition so we’re all on the same page:

A jerk is someone who, by their annoyingly brash behaviour, has the ability to quickly annoy and upset someone else.

Here’s where I’m headed.

A lot of people have some annoying habits. Sometimes these habits are no big deal. If someone doesn’t replace the empty toilet paper roll, is always late, or is a “close talker,” they may get under people’s skin, but it’s not the end of the world.

But certain habits can actually be hurtful.

Maybe someone is perpetually insensitive. Or maybe they’re quick to criticize or trample on someone else’s well-meaning ideas.

Sometimes it can be hard to know whether or not this is you because (a) people don’t usually want to hurt your feelings by telling you something negative, and (b) they probably don’t like conflict.

Therefore, since people won’t necessarily tell you about your potential jerk-ishness, it’s easy for you to carry on as if nothing is wrong.

It makes me think of the Black Knight in a Monty Python movie. King Arthur cuts off both of the Black Knight’s arms in a sword battle, but the Knight continues to jump around enthusiastically as if nothing is wrong, proclaiming, “Tis only a flesh wound!”

He was lying to himself—downplaying the magnitude of the problem!

Sometimes we do the same thing. We lie to ourselves about how we treat others, downplaying the magnitude of the problem.

So, if this is you, what should you do?

Proverbs 17:17 (NLT) offers a great starting point: “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.”

If you have the sneaking suspicion that you can sometimes take up real estate in Jerkville, I think you need to find a friend you trust who can speak to you candidly.

Give them some warning about what you want to talk about, get together, and ask this question:

Where do you think I have room to grow as a person?

After they share, don’t defend yourself. Just thank them. And pray on it.

One final clarification. This isn’t about you tracking down someone you think is a jerk and telling them what they have to do to smarten up. It’s about you asking someone about yourself.

So seek out a friend and ask them this: Where do you think I have room to grow as a person?

Friends are people who can be trusted to keep confidences, to keep promises, and to keep steady when times get tough. Those are the people you want speaking truth into your life.

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.”


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