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Toughest People to Love

The past year has impacted our communities in a myriad of different ways - some of which are harder to understand than others. If you are struggling to deal with those who are conflicted at heart, pick up Toughest People to Love and expect an informative and educative guide. Chuck DeGroat illustrates the need for introspection in order to authentically love the most challenging people around us through a mix of pastoral ministry, counselling advice and routes to personal growth. 

A lesson for leaders

The first section invites us to progress from a reactive leadership model to a relational one that values the hearts of those we find toughest to love. Whether in ministry, business or other leadership roles, DeGroat admits that our professional lives would be easier without interactions with people. However, this is not a reality we are called to as Christians; thus we are offered methods, tactics and internal reflections to soothe our interactions and reawaken compassion for God’s image-bearers. 

Untangling the knots

Through a simple examination of common personality disorders, DeGroat offers a way for leaders to assist those around them (employees, church members, family) navigate these challenges. We are steered through four personality disorders, the primary ones impacting leaders, which serve to expand on DeGroat’s main theme: we are all the product of our childhood, environments and genes. This is a call for leaders to confront their own baggage as well as recognising the complexity of others. 

Chapters 4 and 5 allow readers to reflect on their “true” and “false” selves. The role of leaders is to help others uncover their true self, which is masked by a myriad of projections. Addiction, for example, is an identity problem - the result of faulty attachment - and in other areas we fill the need for intimacy with the Lord by feeding the false self.

Perhaps readers should be aware at this point that it is easy to use the personality disorders described in this section as labels. Because this is not an in-depth disorder analysis but an illustrative use to symbolise the deep-seated complexity of the human condition, as Christians we should resist the temptation to reduce people simply to their issues and use labels as a consequence. 

Embrace the storm

The final chapters of Toughest People to Love explore personal darkness, rest, growth and resilience in leadership positions. To move forwards from instances of burnout, DeGroat encourages us to adjust our mindsets to embrace wholeness. Rather than disregarding low seasons, we must engage mindfully in rest - not just annual vacations - and also engage wholeheartedly with those around us. Rest rekindles a resilient soul which is vital in order to grow both personally and professionally, and interact with the toughest in our communities.

DeGroat acts as a wisened leader whose experience in ministry settings has equipped him to advise believers. Readers will close the pages of Toughest People to Love with, hopefully, a maturer insight into the hearts of those around them. We can no longer get away with viewing image-bearers simplistically but instead must renew ourselves and treat each interaction with the grace of God.

You can find a copy of Toughest People to Love here