31 Mar Conflict Resolution
Someone once said that every problem in human history can be traced back to a relationship issue.
If that is the case, why is it so hard to get our relationships past conflict.
We make this out to be so complicated that we are unable to nurture relationships past simple misunderstandings.
I think it is simply because we have removed biblical truth from resolving our issues.
We tend to want to be justified, paint ourselves in a “better than you” light or worse, we just want to be right! We have replaced biblical expectations of resolving our conflicts with a reality tv brand of justice: let the people decide.
That brand of justice usually includes us telling 10 or 15 of our “closest friends” about an unresolved issue we have with someone else. We tell these friends about the other person and how inconsiderate, rude and mean they are. We provide examples of when they acted this way toward us then get advice, find justification or are consoled by those “close friends”. Once we are finish obliterating this other person and their character we leave feeling better about the situation because we have just emotionally vomited our emotions.
This gains us two things: sympathy and people who chose sides.
Here are the problems:
1. Those “close friends” that listen to us talk about someone else are probably talking about us when we aren’t present. (Just like we probably talk about them when they aren’t present).
2. We have infected those “friends” with second-hand offense.
A. We feel a sense of relief, however we have just begun a domino effect of slow but absolute death for those “friends”.
B. Second-hand offense is a serious disease. It is the most effective way of killing Christians in the church. Just as second-hand smoke can be worse than directly smoking a cigaret, second-hand offense is as deadly.
C. Those friends, who may have never had a problem with that person, now see that person in a bad light and may never have an open and honest relationship based on our personal issue.
3. When people chose one side over another it is, in its simplest form, called division. At that stage the enemy has started his victory lap.
4. WE NEVER TALKED TO THE PERSON WHO WE ARE HAVING THE ISSUE WITH.
The bible is clear in Matthew 18 – If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.
When did our issues with each other become everyone else’s issue? The moment that happens, we lose the opportunity for a powerful God moment: reconciliation.
How else will the world know the love of God? When we show that same love toward each other. It is fundamental to being in unity.
Nothing gets under my skin more than Christians who cannot handle conflict resolution biblically.
We hold onto grudges like we hold onto luggage! We need to let go of our hurts and find a place of grace and peace, allowing the good work of the Father to intervene on our behalf.
We cannot take out the pieces of the bible that don’t suit us when it is convenient: But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. – Matthew 6:15
How about James 4:11 – Do not speak evil against one another
Here’s one we are all familiar with, the “Golden Rule” – So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you – Matthew 7:12.
We all have had someone treat us wrong. If you’ve attended pre-school for 3 days its happened. How we handle the situation is what keeps us acting either like we are still 4 years old or it elevates our maturity level to biblical proportions.
At some point we have to man or woman up and realize we are not playing games but dealing with the lives of people. Not dealing with conflict has a long lasting ripple effect that we never truly see.
Christian leaders are some of the worst at resolving conflict. Most of us leaders need to climb down from our high horses and understand that position doesn’t guarantee us immunity from responding to the bible in kind.
What God expects from ALL of us is to be obedient to His word!
Here is a simple role play exercise when we have been offended:
Offended: Hi Offender, the other day when we were talking you said/did this. I’m sure you didn’t mean it this way, however I took it to mean this… (We are assuming innocents first).
Offender: I did say/do that but that is not what I meant. This is what I was trying to say/do. I am sorry for the misunderstanding. (Taking the more humble approach).
Offended: I didn’t think you meant it that way but I’m glad we cleared the air.
Offended: Hi Offender, the other day when we were talking you said/did this. I’m sure you didn’t mean it this way, however I took it to mean this…
Offender: Yes, I did say/do that and meant it that way.
Offended: Ok well it bothers me and for the following reasons…
At this point, you may have to walk away agreeing to disagree. If it is a vital issue that will decide your friendship, whether someone is going to be physically hurt or it is a heaven/hell issue, you will want to involve a partial, mutually agreed upon spiritual leader to help you resolve this.
If the issue is not vital, this is where “adulting” has to kick in. Walk away and try to understand that we all have different perspectives on life and ours isn’t the only right way to think.
The most difficult part of that example is having the courage to approach the Offender. Although most people don’t enjoy conflict, if you do that is another issue altogether, we must learn how to approach it with the idea of redemption.
If we cannot learn to handle conflict we will continue to kill off church going Christians a dozen at a time. And forget keeping those newly convinced of who Jesus is. Most unconvinced people think the church is full of hypocrites as it is. If we continue to handle conflict this way, we prove them right time and time again.
This is one of those things that, if it was easy everyone would do it. The truth is that if we all lived it, the church would be further along, God will be glorified more often and, because of the unity we would bring, there will be a blessing of a life released throughout the church.