Safe and Unsafe People

From Genesis to Revelation, its all about relationships with others and with God. 

Our God is a relational God. His desire is to seek a love relationship with every person. And because He is relational, He created us to be relational. His desire is also for us to be in love relationships with others. 

But, there are barriers and walls preventing positive, edifying relationships that can cause brokenness and pain. 

We get emotionally sick in relationships and we also get emotionally healthy in relationships. Strange isn’t it?

The key to healthy relationships is to have “safe” people we can trust, share with, and depend on. Unsafe people poison our soul and make us sick emotionally. 

In their excellent and enlightening book, “Safe People,” Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend outline the personality and behavioural traits of both safe and unsafe people. 
Unsafe people apologize without changing their behaviour. Take a man, for example, who stays up alone at night on the computer. His wife yearns for him to come to bed. She grows suspicious and quietly enters the room where he is and catches him on a porn site. She feels betrayed, inadequate, and angry and confronts him. He turns off the computer, comes to bed, and promises not to do it again. After several nights, he’s up late again. His addiction like all addictions consumes him. He can’t quit without admitting he’s powerless to change and then seek the help from a godly, wise counselor and support group where he can be emotionally honest about the pain causing him to seek the pain-killer which is in this case, porn. Only then can he begin to change his behavior. 

 Before really changing unacceptable, hurtful behavior, an unsafe people lies. An unnsafe person sees deception as an effective way of dealing with problems. I had a lady tell me that she caught her husband in the act with another women. He said, “What you see is not what you think it is.”  He became angry and made the innocent wife into a villain blaming her for his running around. Making no attempt to change or reconcile, he made the divorce expensive and difficult for her. 

A toxic man or woman doesn’t try to reconcile. They never admit the bad, unacceptable behavior and therefore do not grow to emotional maturity. They refuse to seek the help of wise, godly counselors or read good Christian self-help books and apply the truth to their life.  Toxic people don’t make the effort to grow emotionally mature. Instead, they blame others, respond defensively, deny they have a problem, and fail to change for their benefit and the benefit of others. 

I had a man in a church I pastored years ago who I consider born in the indicative-kickative state. He was angry at everything and everybody including me. He would glare at me when I preached, his glare was a little unnerving I must admit. He told me once, “God is going to strike you dead with lightning.”  Well, He didn’t have the power of Elijah to call down fire from heaven. I’m still standing, and he’s still full of fiery anger and resentment. To my knowledge, he never changed and continues to blame everyone but himself for making him an angry man. 

A person with a poor self-image like I had is ripe to be manipulated and used by a toxic person. How does a person like this manipulate to get you to do what they want? Through flattery. 

In my younger days, I wanted to be a big shot preacher. Such pastors were my idols. I had a director of missions tell me that I was destined for great things. “One day, you will be president of our state convention.”  That was like saying “Sic ’em” to a dog!”  I would do anything for him. Any committee, mission project, or meeting that he wanted me to participate in, I did.  I even neglected my own family to serve him all the while thinking I was serving God. After all, that was the way he framed it. He made me feel like I was somebody and doing the will of God. I  cherished his and others accolades. It wasn’t until I started attending a recovery group years later and mentored by a godly pastor-counselor and friend of mine that I realized how manipulated I was by flattery not only from my former director of missions but from other unsafe people like him. 

Unsafe people are toxic. They are a negative influence on us rather than a positive influence. From such, avoid trying to have a relationship with them. They are poison to our soul and make us sick emotionally. 

Instead, build healthy relationships with people who are affirming, honest, edifying, and accepting of us even with our faults. In these healthy relationships with safe people, we can grow, change for the better, laugh, and love. That’s the kind of relationship the Lord has with us. Safe, healthy, and beneficial. A true love relationship. And, that’s the kind of relationship he wants us to have with others. 

“Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV).  


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