An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel. – Proverbs 18:19
Some of the best work our enemy does is an inside job. Christians tend to rally around one another when there is an outside attack or threat, but it seems we do not fare so well when the battle is amongst us. Where two or more people are gathered, trying to live life together, there is bound to be tension, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, poor communication, and what we call in the South, fussing.
But we can do better. We must do better. Here are some practical reminders to begin the journey of healing broken relationships and restoring the unity that is so critical for all of us.
1. Emails are the worst.
Please do not pound out a lengthy email and fire away at your assumed adversary. 80% of communication is non-verbal and your emotions and intent cannot be determined by reading words on a screen. What you meant and what is read are usually two different things. Trust me on this.
2. Talk when you are rested
Make sure you are not tired when you confront someone. For those of you with small children, this may mean about you have about a 30-second window for dialogue each day. Seriously, though, a good nights sleep always changes your perspective for the better and allows for those frothy emotions to simmer and settle a bit.
3. Leave room for enlightenment
I know this is a long shot, but could there be a slim chance you are the one who is wrong? I know you won’t believe me, but there was this one time, I was wrong and did not know it. Okay, actually, it is pretty common for me and probably for you, too. We can learn from every disagreement and sometimes, being “right” is not as important as we think. Relationships are hard to get and easy to lose.
4. Pray for God’s eyes
If we cannot see or imagine anything of worth in the other person, we are not seeing them as God does. Most of the time, people are hurtful and angry at us because of a wound that happened in their lives long before we met them. Give them grace and space. God is at work in them whether we can see it or not.
5. Ignoring it will not help
Half the world’s population are introverts and usually get stomach pains when reading these kind of blogs. Conflict is something they tend to avoid like left over sushi in the fridge. But, the Scriptures are clear, we must go to our brother if we know there is something wrong in the relationship. Avoid passive aggressive behaviors like blog posts, facebook rants and phone calls to your “prayer” partner. Follow the above steps and then initiate a meeting. The meeting should be face to face if possible, but a phone call to someone a distance away is also good. Use Skype or facetime so you can see each other.
Unity is a powerful force. With it, we can do most anything. Without it, we are defeated. Relationships are worth the struggle. In fact, most sincere, long time friendships were forged after two mature people decided to talk to one another instead of hide from one another.
July 19, 2012 at 5:38 am
Good blog post on conflict. I would contend, also, that most churches don’t deal well with conflict because they don’t have a tool kit to do so. I strongly recommend a great book called “Hope in the Face of Conflict” by Dr. Ken Newberger and the follow-up ministry he has developed for churches to effectively deal with conflict entitled, The First Responders Initiative.