by Bryan J. Neva, Sr.
Over my lifetime, I've come to realize an important truism I like to call the 1% Rule. And the rule is this: the key to success with 99% of the people in our lives is how we treat the 1%. To put it another way, the key to success with the 99 is how we treat the 1.
For example, there's always going to be about 1% of the people we come into contact with who are going to try our patience. They could be the obnoxious and dangerous drivers we encounter out on the road; they could be the rude people who are disrespectful to us in the stores and parking lots; they could be our neighbors who can't seem to live at peace with us; they could be our colleagues who are difficult to work with; they could be our customers who are too demanding; they could be our employees who give us headaches; they could be our supervisors or managers who bully and micromanage us; they could be our children who disobey and are disrespectful to us; they could be our relatives who drive us crazy; they could be our spouse who doesn't love us; the list could go on and on. But there's also about 99% of the people we interact with who don't normally behave badly towards us.
Here's something to consider: every obnoxious quality is really a cry of pain. Generally speaking, the reason people behave badly towards others is there's deep seated emotional pain. We have no idea what someone else is going through in their lives. They could be going through a divorce or breakup, they could have recently lost their job, they could have recently suffered from a death among their family or friends, they could be suffering from a serious mental or physical illness, they could be suffering from an addiction of some sort, maybe their loved one was just diagnosed with a fatal illness, maybe they had a difficult childhood, maybe they're under a tremendous amount of stress, or maybe they're just simply bad, obnoxious people? We have no idea what others are going through or why they behave the way they do.
In the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:4, Jesus said, "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?" Most people wouldn't even bother with the one who got lost, but God is different, he doesn't want to lose anybody. God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.
So rather than reacting to others' obnoxious behavior, we should strive to act instead. When we react to others obnoxious behavior, we slowly become just like them: obnoxious individuals! And then we slowly become one of the 1%. And when we do so, it'll have a negative effect on 99% of all the others in our lives. But when we choose to act like God does towards each of us by showing patience, kindness, love, and forbearance towards others, we elevate the interaction and it has a positive effect on 99% of all the others in our lives. How we treat the 1 really does matter to the 99.