As we bring this part of the series on unsafe people to a close, let me remind you of where we have been as we discussed the personal characteristics of an unsafe person – a person that is not someone you should chose to build a deep, personal relationship with.
1> Unsafe people think that ‘have it all together’ instead of admitting their weaknesses
2> Unsafe people are religious instead of spiritual
3> Unsafe people are defensive instead of open to feedback
4> Unsafe people are self-righteous instead of humble
5> Unsafe people only apologize instead of changing their behaviour
6> Unsafe people stay in parent/child roles instead of relating as equals
7> Unsafe people demand trust, instead of earning it
8> Unsafe people believe they are perfect instead of admitting their faults
9> Unsafe people blame others instead of taking responsibility
10> Unsafe people lie instead of telling the truth
In a relationship, honesty is the bedrock foundation of a safe relationship. To the degree that there is deception, there is danger. Often we have heard spouses and friends talk about someone that they “thought they knew,” only to find out that this person was living a whole other life they did not know about.
There was a report recently about a man whose entire well-being in finances was now gone because he was deceived in a business relationship. He invested the majority of his money with a con artist.
And there are many whose emotional and spiritual security has been wiped out for the same reason. They invested all they had with someone who was deceiving them and found out that their relationship, or their family, or their faith was built on smoke and mirrors. They trusted someone’s love to be real, and found out that the person was deceiving them all along to get things from them.
We are all deceivers to some degree. The difference between safe and unsafe ‘liars’ is that safe people own their lies and see them as a problem to change as they become aware of their deception. Lying gives way to truth, confrontation, humility, and repentance. Unsafe people see deception as strategy to cling to and to manage life and relationships. They defend instead of giving up their lies. And there is no way a relationship can prosper and grow if one person is a liar.
11> Unsafe people are stagnant instead of growing
Each of us has both fixed aspects of our character and things that we can change. For example, a naturally aggressive person will not change to be naturally passive. But that person can learn to channel that aggression in acceptable ways. This kind of change is part of the sanctification process that we undergo as we place ourselves under the Lordship of Christ.
Safe people know that they are subject to change. They want to mature and grow over time. But unsafe people do not see their own problems; they are rigidly fixed and not subject to growth.
Proverbs 17:10 “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding
than a hundred blows into a fool.”
These people can be dangerous, and they will only change when there are enough limits placed on them that they are forced into great pain, humility, and loss. Without this confrontation, unsafe people will remain defiant and unchanged.
A concluding comment…
Remember, as we look at these 11 character traits of an unsafe person … realize that no one is perfect. Safe people will at times stumble and be ‘unsafe’ for after all, they are sinner too. So do not expect perfection.
Instead, when you are measuring someone’s character, look at these traits in terms of degree. Everyone lies at some time or in some way, but not everyone is a pathological liar. Look for degrees of imperfection. If a person seems willing to change, forgive him graciously and work with him. But if he resists you, proceed with caution.
Next: Interpersonal traits of unsafe people …