Relational Health in Conflict
Date Published: 01 / 26 / 2023 |
In my sermon this past Sunday, we took a little time to discuss relational health in the mist of conflict. In the book of James, we can see there was conflict and division between those in the church who were wealthy landowners and those who worked the fields.
The rich in the church were oppressing the poor in the church and the poor in the church were punching back. The poor didn’t understand the pressures being faced by business in the life of the rich, but clearly diagnosed their greed.
The rich in the church had no idea how hard it was to work that kind of labor and have almost nothing to show for it at the end of the day. They likely thought the poor were acting entitled. This conflict became the main thing in the church, not Jesus. Both parties resorted to gossip instead of talking with each other.
How do we make our way back
to relational health in situations of disagreement?
James 1:19 gives us three steps to pursue in conflict:
1.) Be quick to hear
2.) Be slow to speak
3.) Be slow to anger
Be quick to hear...
First, lay aside your assumptions.
I love the old saying “Assumptions make an ASS out of U and ME" (get it? Clever little play on the word Assume.) Narratives we create about others always include gaps that should have been filled in with trust rather than suspicion.
Second, listen in order to understand.
Seek out their perspective until you can quote it back to them in a way they would agree with. Listening is a great gift you can give to someone. There is nothing like feeling understood. It also softens the heart to admit fault and give grace to the other.
Be slow to speak...
How many things have we said in anger that we wish we could take back? How many times have we accused without knowing the whole story?
When you speak, try and remove the head wagging, biting tone, lecturing posture, or the shrill voice.
Pray and ask God to give you composure
and love for the person.
Then after being slow about it, speak.
Are you seeking to win? If you are, you are probably someone who compromises bits of the truth to win. Especially in an argument, we cover up, change the story, rewrite events emotionally, etc. Why? We must win.
What if you changed the goal from winning to reconciliation and peace? What if we were willing to lose so things can be repaired?
Be slow to anger..
As I said on Sunday, this is a tough one for me. No judgment here. Anger has plagued me my whole life. Especially my temper. I get almost just as angry about injustices in the world as I do when an inanimate object doesn’t work correctly. Ridiculously, I have cursed at a lawn mower, a tv, an item from Ikea and various traffic jams.
As you can a imagine, my temper has not helped me in conflict. I have said things I don’t mean in ways that I regret.
When I lean on God, take a beat, pray a quick prayer and be present - humbly engaged by the power of the Spirit - I can respond to the emotion of anger with grace.
Reacting is the problem
and slowing down anger
allows you to control the reaction
and instead give a response.
This is all really hard stuff, but as the Word of God changes us and brings us into maturity, over time you will see a bit of progress - enough to keep you encouraged, but not enough that you stop being dependent.
You will stumble many more times,
but get up and keep following Jesus.
He does not despise our bloody knees. He has bandages and encouraging words. He knows he is going to recreate it all anyway!
Grace and peace,