How to Respond to a Drama Queen

Being in ministry for over 35 years has given me a long running theater in which to view people’s lives. There is always some sort of drama happening at any time in the life of a church family or in my personal arena of family and friends. I have not always been wise in how I have invested myself in these events.

My second New Year’s resolution states: Be available to love and minister, but avoid being dragged into other people’s dramas. You lose your sense of God’s perspective when you become a cast member in someone’s emotional performance.

Drama queen boundaries

How much I become involved in someone’s crisis depends on my ability to set wise boundaries and hear the voice of the Lord. This isn’t easy when faced with a hurting person needing lots of love and support.

Nor are boundaries and God’s voice always clear when my favorite drama queen, or king, demands my attention. It only becomes worse when I allow myself to become enmeshed in the production.

broken theater sign for How to Respond to a Drama Queen post at Holy in the DailyMy strategy for dealing with a person’s crisis this year is to respond with love and a momentary time of ministry. Then pull back and examine the situation before I automatically respond further.

Some questions I need to ask myself at this stage are:

  • Does this person really want help, or is he or she demanding unhealthy attention? Are love, validation, and a listening ear called for, or is advice being requested? I need to know what is being asked of me and what is not.
  • What part of this situation is really my responsibility, and what is the individual’s or another’s responsibility?
  • Am I feeling obligated, driven, or tempted to play the “hero” here? Can I minister from the heart of Jesus and not other motives?
  • Do I have time for this—really? Not everything that comes to my attention needs my attention.
  • Will this person follow through on any advice and direction I provide at their request, or will I be wasting my time?
  • If I am not to become involved in this person’s drama, is there someone else who might be able to help? Can I recommend or involve others as needed without including myself beyond that recommendation?
  • What is the most appropriate and compassionate way to communicate my boundaries to this person if necessary?
    Asking these questions allows space to reflect on what God might be asking of me.

Ministering to a drama queen may not happen in the way the drama queen might want or expect, and asking the above questions provides a firm footing to proceed or not proceed.

Boundaries are necessary in order to balance my life and prevent an energy drain in my already crowded life.

The most compassionate thing I can do sometimes is to ignore a drama queen intent on producing another Oscar winning performance. This leaves me free to minister to those suffering a legitimate crisis.

What suggestions might you add to my list? I’m still learning here, so please add your wisdom in the comment section below.

Susan Gaddis

6 Responses to How to Respond to a Drama Queen

  1. Wow. I am ministering here in Ufa, Russia with Ron and there is this woman…..wow. While I am speaking, she is constantly trying to engage the interpreter, give her opinion, ask questions. She was not happy when I asked her to write down her questions and wait until the final Q&A session. She left…..outch…..but was outside afterward, pestering my husband. Needing wisdom! This article is good reinforcement. Thanks!

  2. I think the family or church or other “belonging” component is a part of this, too. One might be tired of the drama, but if they have taken the steps to belong, even though they have the problem over and over, it is probably more tempting to say, “Oh, it is them again.” But, because of their having taken the time to belong, there is more opportunity to listen and exercise authority to help them with the difficulty (and yes even if it is not the response they wanted).

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