Yesterday, we had the honor of being taught by our Pastor of Spiritual Formation, John Shepherd. He is down-to-earth and relatable when he teaches, so I enjoy listening to him. As we continued our series on Game Changers in your relationships, John taught us the game changing Power of Reconciliation. Now, with the holidays upon us we’ll all be spending time with family, friends, neighbors, and c0-workers, so learning to resolve conflict would certainly make the next few weeks (and the rest of our lives) much more enjoyable.
Have you ever thought about how YOU handle conlict…snide comments….accusations…..backhanded compliments…..or, just plain rudeness? John suggested that many of us fall into one of these categories:
Escalators – when confronted you yell, get animated, and let anyone within earshot know exactly how you feel.
Avoiders – when confronted you smile and pretend it didn’t happen. You’d rather ignore the problem and stuff your feelings deep inside than actually have a conversation about the issue.
Historian – when confronted you have the ability to list every other instance that you’ve been wronged in the same way, right down to the time, date, and location. (Shawn tried to get me to raise my hand on this point. Obviously, he thinks I might relate to this one. I’m pleading the Fifth.)
Passive Aggressive – when confronted you may not retaliate right away, but you will get revenge through subtle methods like withholding your love or being politely hostile.
Ok, we can probably all see a little of ourselves in each of these categories. But, the truth is this:
All of these methods are simply REACTIONS to conflict. They are not SOLUTIONS to conflict.
You see, to resolve conflict you must take ACTION, not merely react in the moment based on how you feel. Jesus gave us extremely specific and practical steps to take to resolve difficulties in our relationships in Matthew 18:15-17. What He taught isn’t easy to do. Far from it. Talking with other people about how they’ve hurt you or confessing your wrongs to someone else makes our skin crawl. Why? Probably because we fear rejection. And, you know what? The other person can do just that – they can reject you. They can refuse to apologize, refuse to forgive, or refuse to even talk with you. But, Romans 12:18 gives us the ultimate challenge:
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
So, the question is, have you done everything within your power to make peace with everyone in your life? Have you apologized? Have you forgiven? Have you taken steps to reconcile? John gave us some practical steps to take to deal with these gaps in our relationships with a handy-dandy acrostic. Here you go:
G: Go to the person in private and share your heart. Take note, Jesus said to go privately, first. Please don’t worsen the situation by talking about the offense with all of your friends before you honor the other person by speaking with them.
A: Admit your offense or your pain. Talk about how you feel with gentle words.
P: Pray for the person you are having conflict with. You’d be surprised at what God does in YOUR heart when you pray for them.
S: Stay in the relationship. WHAT???!!! You mean, I can’t just wipe my hands of them and move on? Yep, if we are to follow the example of Jesus who forgives us and continues to love us, we should continue to love those who offend us. Now, please understand, I’m not speaking of those extreme situations of abuse. Jesus doesn’t intend for you to stay in a relationship where you are not safe. Rather, I’m speaking of the everyday, regular-life offenses that we all experience.
You can watch the full message here later today. Stay tuned to SharpenHer tomorrow. I’ll be posting some conflict resolution tips that my hubby and I have used for years to sharpen our relationship!
What about you? Could you use GAPS to reconcile one of your relationships this week? Let me encourage – that is, give you COURAGE – to do it! Stamp out the butterflies in your stomach and take ACTION. Jesus will be honored when you honor those around you. And, let me know how I can pray for you as you bridge the GAPS in your life!