This is part of a series of posts aimed at supporting and encouraging the volunteers of Lafayette Community Church.
On Sunday, I started a brand new series of messages I’m calling “f.i.g.h.t” to cover the five skills you need to handle any kind of conflict that may come your way.
This is a really personal issue for me. I remember as a child seeing all the conflict that arose in my home church. There were debates over whether the leaders of the church should be called Deacons, Elders, or Overseers. There were debates on whether the missionaries should get more money or the school. There were debates over whether the pastor really deserved as much money as they gave him.
Worse than all that, however, there were people in the church who just simply couldn’t or wouldn’t get along with each other in a cordial manner. I know my parents disagreed with the music director now and then, but my mom still sang in the choir, and my dad was never mean or rude with him, nor he or his family with anyone in our family. However, there were other people in the church who when frustrated at something would mail letters to everyone in the church expressing their indignation at some decision that had been made or at how they weren’t being “fed” anymore with the Sunday messages.
The bottom line is that I vowed then and their that I would never be a part of a church that was so contentious if I had anything to do about it. Of course, for the first five years of my ministry as a pastor, I was in just such a church.
But my reasons for addressing conflict as a topic of study for this series are not simply personal frustrations. In fact, my strongest reasons are that the Bible is abundantly clear that unity and peace are supposed to be hallmarks of those who would call themselves followers of Jesus. Peacemakers are called children of God. Jesus prays in the garden before his crucifixion that his followers and those who follow them would be unified. Paul teaches that Jesus’ purpose on earth was to reconcile people to God and to each other.
In other words, if we take the Bible seriously, then we have no right to call ourselves followers of Jesus if we don’t know how to handle conflict well.
There’s one thing I wanted to share on Sunday that I didn’t get to for time constraints. I called it my relationship principle #42 for no good reason whatever:
I know a bit about me and what goes on inside me, but not everything.
I know even less about you
If I ever view you through the lens of me, I’m destined for misunderstanding.
In other words, one chief aspect of conflict is that we don’t even know ourselves let alone each other. If I can’t tell when my emotion is anger or frustration or disappointment or fear, then how in the world can I possibly think I’m right to judge your motives!?
As a result of all this, we looked at the “F” principle for handling conflict and it came to this:
FIGURE IT OUT
As a church, we together stated our commitment this way:
Before I fight, I’ll do some figuring first!
Of course, by that, I meant that before we engage in any conflict, we should sit down with God, his word, and some serious thought to try to figure out what is really going on. Then I summarized the teaching of the New Testament when it comes to conflict.
|Matthew 5:23-24||someone has something against me||I put my life on pause to attempt reconciliation|
|Matthew 18:15 & Galatians 6:1||someone has sinned||I take part in a gentle process seeking repentance & restoration|
|Romans 14:15||I’m causing someone distress||I stop doing what I’m doing.|
|Colossians 3:13||I have a grievance.||I forgive.|
The New Testament actually gives us quite a bit of teaching on the topic of conflict, but in each case, it expects that we have done the work of figuring out the conflict first. Each conflict cause needs a distinct kind of response, and that final response gave us what I called the “Alternate ‘F’ Principle” or simply “Forgive.” When it comes to conflict, the Christian’s default position should always be to forgive unless it becomes clear that one of the other causes is in play.
Determining the real root cause of the conflict will be part of my message next week. You won’t want to miss it.
“expectations” = sometimes I have put expectations on others and myself and it causes disappointment, sadness, hurt, loss. I need to “forgive” and “figure it out” first.
I will “figure it out” before I fight. Also I won’t fight over little things that don’t matter.
Powerful – I have several conflicts in my life right now that I need to apply this principle to. Look forward to the rest of the series.
I am guilty of having high expectations of others and becoming disappointed and hurt. This causes me to become angry and today’s message has pointed out that I need to pray and forgive instead of dwell on it and cause distress for me and my family.
So exciting. We all need this. I love how forgive is the first thing we are starting with. So important. Forgiveness should be one of the easier things we do. Jesus died he “forgave” us.
I must stop and analyze my “cause” before I follow a path of anger or emotion. then I should apply the correct biblical “fix”. If there is sin…seek restoration. If another has something against me…seek reconciliation. If I am causing distress…stop. If I am offended…forgive.
Looking forward to the next few weeks, there are a few things I want to remind you of and encourage you with.
Refresh Event is happening on October 27, 6:00pm
I’ve been telling you about this special event for a couple weeks now, but what I haven’t told you is that I have just lined up a very special guest musician for the night. Some of you will know him from long ago, and some of you will be astounded at what you hear, but all of you will love it!
If you thought the night wasn’t going to be all that special, think again!
Here are the details again:
- We are going to fellowship over our favorite appetizers and desserts brought by all of us to share with each other.
- We will have a special guest band with a VERY special guest musician
- I’m going to bring some teaching from the Bible to help us become better ministers and leaders.
- We’re going to take some time to break up into ministry groups to reconnect and strategize.
Does this excite you as much as it does me? It’s going to be on October 27 at 6:00pm at the church building, and we will provide childcare for your kids! Put it on your calendar now!!
Coaching in 20 minutes or less
I’ve been going through this coaching material with a number of people recently, and it seems to be making quite a difference in people’s lives. In fact, I’ve realized that it’s the kind of thing that can be done really effectively even with short coaching meetings. If you want to be coached, but you don’t think you have the time for it, let me know. We can work something out where we can do a coaching appointment in just 20 minutes over the phone or by Skype.
I’m making myself available to you especially because as leaders and helpers in the ministries of LCC, you are on the front lines and I want you to know you are supported.
Finally, I want to point you toward our experimental online prayer request board. It’s found at http://lafayettecc.org/members. You’ll need an account to log in, and if you aren’t part of our Prayer Team, you’ll only be able to see the public requests and your own requests. Let me know if you have suggestions for how it should work or if you’d like to join our Prayer Team.