A few of my kids went to school this morning after a heated conversation. Both had tears in their eyes & it rips me up as their mom to see this tension and strife. Which makes me wonder how God “feels” when we are yucky with each other. The truth is that any relationship worth it’s weight will have to work through conflict. So here are a few pointers to help with this challenge:
benefit of the doubt: assume the best rather than blame the worst
double standard: be mindful that you don’t just the other person by actions but ourselves by intentions
breathing space: sometimes a “cool down” can bring some clarity and options that aren’t available when we are in the heat of a conflict
be generous: seek to understand before being understood
forgive well: practice makes perfect
conclusion: sometimes the best outcome is to agree to disagree without being disagreeable 🙂
Recently, there was a shooting in a suburb of St Louis where a white police officer shot & killed an african american teen, Mike Brown. There has been massive outrage, demonstrations and upheaval from this altercation with lots of accusations being thrown around. The National Guard has been called in to the area, curfews have been enforced and there’s a tremendous amount of anxiety, pain, frustration, anger, hostility and even some violent reactions to these events.
My goal with this blog is not to throw more fuel into an already intense inferno. Rather, I would ask you to join me in praying a few brief but powerful points for this situation:
peace and clarity
comfort and healing for the family who lost their son / family member
wisdom, strength and grace for the leaders in Ferguson & those who are involved in these events
I’ve been watching the situation with Israel & Palestine over the last month & I was very happy to read this morning about the ceasefire and what seems to be the ramp down of the military conflict between Israel & Palestine. If you have looked into any of the history of this area, you’ll quickly see that this area of the world has been unstable to varying degrees for millennia. Regardless of which side of the conflict you sympathize, its good for everyone that they constructively work toward a peace that can be realisticlly achieved between these neighboring countries.
With that being said, I don’t see how you can be a neighboring country, endeavoring to build trust while concurrently telling your population that your neighbor is the enemy – both sides do this. I also don’t see how you can build trust when an underlying tenant of your political existence is the obliteration of your neighboring country – there has to be mutual respect for mutual sovereignty. Finally, you can’t build trust without first creating an environment for constructive conversation.
If you’ve been following the news of late, there’s been a very significant increase in the military activity between Israel & Palestine within the last several days. Israel has mobilized troops and is currently carrying out ground operations into Palestine & Gaza. There have been very noteworthy increases on both sides of fatalities and loss. And there are many individuals who support Israel and many individuals who support Palestine. No matter what “side” is your position, let’s pray for peace in Israel and Palestine. The loss of lives, injuries and property destruction from this conflict is all extremely high, so let’s be sure to keep this area in our daily prayers!
Ok friends, I’m writing this blog knowing that I’m stepping into some very serious controversy. In the past several weeks there have been lots of feedback on John MacArthur’s book, “Strange Fire”, a book that takes a critical position of the Charismatic movement in today’s world. There are more than enough brilliant people taking sides on Mr MacArthur’s position – in both opposition and support. Whatever your thoughts or opinions are about Charistmatics or Mr MacArthur’s beliefs, let’s keep in mind what Paul says about the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21. Such works include not only immorality and idolatry, but the works of the flesh also include: enmity, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions and factions. Let’s remember that Jesus prayed that we, His followers, would be one like He is one with the Father, John 17:21-22.
No matter if you agree or disagree with Mr MacArthur, if we are followers of Jesus, then we don’t need to be disagreeable with a fellow follower of Jesus – smile 🙂
From time to time I have the opportunity to be involved in situations that can be volatile, hostile & combative. I can’t say that I enjoy these types of situations but I am learning a few things that you might find helpful:
*Proverbs says that a soft answer turns away wrath – answering with gentle words & replies can be super helpful to turn a hostile conversation into a constructive conversation
*volume, pace & pitch are important in our verbal replies because they can increase or diffuse the hostility
*seek to understand before being understood – this always helps me to grow & learn more
*pray: seems to me that we need God more than we frequently recognize 🙂
What have you found to be helpful? Thanks for your input!!
We have had access to massive communication improvements over the past few decades. If you think about it, did you ever pull the phone cord out of the wall? In the ’80s, a tweet would have been “twit” mis-pronounced. And my idea of “wifi” in the ’70s was more like “hi-fi” in our house with speakers in every room so I could play records throughout the house at maximum volume. Communication has certainly improved, but we can all stand to make some improvements in our inter-personal communication, especially as it relates to conflict 🙂
Here are some tips that you might find useful in resolving conflict:
Understand the issue: get on the same page about what you’re discussing because often the center of the conflict comes from not discussing the same content
Separate what was said from what was heard (that’s not what I said, but that’s what was heard)
Consider the emotions & expectations associated w the conversation – these items can make communication hazy & ineffective if they’re not identified
Be patient & listen without asserting your opinion
Own your part of the communication challenge – blame sabotages communications & does nothing constructive
Be clear by removing subtleties, nuances & emotional telepathy; these efforts will only leave you frustrated
We all have had the experience where something has happened or someone has said something & we were left speechless. Sometimes, we’ve had people say things that have been really hurtful. Sometimes, we are in a situation that is very difficult to know how to respond. Sometimes, a conversation goes in a direction that can be uncomfortable. These are just a few examples of when we might be left “speechless”. Thankfully, I’m starting to learn to say less than what I think – whew! But what should we say in difficult situations, conversations etc?
Here are some thoughts:
be encouraging – look for something positive if you’re expected to make a reply
wisdom, the leading of the Holy Spirit, helps us to know when we should speak & when we should remain silent; there are appropriate times to be vocal & there are times when silence is golden
listen to what God would want to achieve through the interchange – getting on God’s page is more helpful than pushing my personal agenda
speak life – acknowledge shortcomings, be forgiving & affirming
Jesus said that people who are peace makers are a blessing because they’re called the sons of God – making peace isn’t the same thing as rolling over & playing dead, but it also isn’t about escalating a conflict.
trying to resolve conflict through email, facebook, text messaging, voicemail, linked in, etc is really difficult & sometimes impossible. Be mindful of what you’re trying to accomplish if you bring up difficult conversations in these settings because there is HUGE AMOUNTS of room for misunderstanding 🙂
I had an interesting experience a few days ago with a very unhappy person. This person was extremely upset about a difficulty & she was upset beyond what the circumstances called for. I began to think about the possible reasons why she could be over reacting:
maybe she was having a rough day,
maybe there are other pressures in her life where she vents her frustrations in unrelated situations,
maybe she has some medical challenges that cause her to be easily upset
worst of all, maybe she is an angry person
There’s a difference between being angry about something & being an angry person. One is based on situations but the other is an identity. The person who finds their identity in anger brings dissension into his conversations & relationships based on Prov 29:22 & 15:18. An angry person tends to lack control over their behaviors & conversations. And an angry person, based on what Proverbs says, is a fool (29:11).
In contrast, a person who is slow to anger tends to have a better life – they have great understanding (14:29, 17:27), they’re not easily offended (they overlook offenses – 19:11), they have more self-control than an angry person and a person who is slow to anger is better than the mighty (16:32).
Let’s be angry for the right reasons (against injustices, wickedness & evil), but let’s not be angry people 🙂
Fighting is an interesting concept that gets practiced in many different ways:
the guy who flips me off because I cut in front of his car
fighting in Afghan, Iraq, Libya & other areas
fighting with our spouse over little things portending a bigger issue
fighting with a friend over a misunderstanding or something that is wrong
There are lots of ways of fighting, some of which are better than others. When I was first married, Reece & I would have some normal disagreement, but my way of handling the conflict was to just shut down & disengage (aka – silent treatment). Reece didn’t really put up with that technique, saying that there was nothing constructive accomplished w my silence – it didn’t help resolve the conflict, make any progress toward a common goal or do anything constructive. Quickly, I realized that he was right. Since then, Reece & I can definately have some fights & heated conversations, but we don’t clam up & get silent. We also don’t take shots at each other’s person – we may not like the other’s behavior, but we don’t attack each directly. Consequently, while we’ve had some pretty sturdy conflicts, we also have developed some really good honesty & intimacy over the years.
I think the idea of working through a conflict with God is even more important than when we work through a conflict w our spouse. I don’t think that God is into a passive intimacy with us, where we just roll over & play dead. Think about some of the great men in the Bible: Job, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Peter, . . . . These men all had conflicts with God – good honest “fights” where they disgreed with God, wrestled with Him, challenged His integrity, confronted the discrepencies in the world with God’s character & sometimes just flat out debated with God. If we genuinely want a close relationship with God, there will be times when we will disagree with Him & I don’t think this makes Him nervous. Engaging with God whether through intense love or frustration & even anger is better than indifference & passivity. There is such a thing as a “right fight”.