- First of all, examine your role in the conflict. Ask God to show you your contribution to the problem. Reflect on these questions:
a. Did you respond to them in a way that pleases God?
b. Do you refuse to talk to them, so even if they wanted to apologize, you would never know?
c. Have you already in your mind sent them to hell and you are just waiting on God to process the paperwork?
d. Are you using your influence in a way that will bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation?
- Out of examining your role comes admitting when you are wrong. Don’t try to justify your wrong by using the other person’s wrong as your reason for doing wrong. Remember two wrongs don’t make a right.
- If you feel someone has done you wrong, acknowledge why you are upset. When people hurt us, we make two fatal assumptions. We assume that they know they hurt us and we assume they know why we are hurt. Help the person understand the effect of their actions and give them the opportunity to clarify the intentions of their actions.
- Understand that your preferences are not gospel truth. It doesn’t mean a person has sinned just because they didn’t do what you thought they should have done.
- Address the issue, don’t attack the person! “It upset me when you said…” sounds better than “You are always talking crazy!” Own your feelings. When a person feels attacked, the issue is not likely to get resolved. A person will either avoid the discussing the situation or attack back. Many people begin arguing about the way they are arguing and never get back to addressing the issue.
- Be flexible. As perfect as you think your way is, there is probably an even better way! Remember that conflict resolution is not about winning the conflict, it is about resolving it. When we take the attitude of “I won and you loss”, the relationship ends up losing. Brainstorm to come up with solutions that you can both live with.
- Only try to control what you can actually control: yourself. There is no way that you can control another person. You cannot make another human being do anything! It is difficult enough to control self. In fact, self control is the work of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
- Understand that we all have something we need to change! We are all works in progress and we each have something that we need to change. When we are merciful and patient with others, people will in turn be merciful and patient with us (Luke 6:36-38).
Conflict is inevitable. It is how we handle the inevitable that helps us mature in Christ. As we seek to better manage the conflict in our lives, there are some important things to keep in mind.
What do you do when your spouse isn’t faithful? Now that I have your attention, let me clarify. What do you do when your spouse is not faithful to God? How do you handle it when your spouse is not a part of the body of Christ, or is no longer committed to Christ? There are several ways a person can find himself or herself in a marriage where the spouse is not faithful to God. It may be a case where a person marries someone who is not a Christian. It could be that neither person was a Christian when they got married, and one obeys the gospel. Perhaps both people were Christians and one decides that he or she no longer wants to attend worship consistently, nor live under the lordship of Christ in their daily walk. It could be that the two of you were Christians in name only when you got married, but later in your marriage one of you decides to rededicate your life to living for Christ. While there's no one-size-fits-all formula that will instantly revolutionize a mismatched marriage, there are principles that can contribute to the health of your relationship.
During the month of March, the leadership encouraged the church to reach out to others by doing a kind deed for at least two people who were not members of the body of Christ. I completed one act of kindness early in the month. For my second act of kindness, I wanted to do something near the church building. I decided I would go to a gas station on Illinois and pay for someone’s gas. I saw a lady with a small child about to go into the store to pre-pay for her gas. I approached her and asked if I could pay for her gas, but due to a language barrier, she thought I was asking for money or something.
After a brief wait, another vehicle pulled up to a pump. A lady got out and was about to go into the store to pay for her gas. I asked her if she would mind if I paid for the gas. I gave her the invitation to the “Down, But Not Done” series. I mentioned that God had blessed me so I wanted to be a blessing to someone else, and she was that person. There was great disbelief on her face. The disbelief grew to shock when I started pumping the gas. She said, “You are going to pay for the gas, and pump it too?! At this point she started looking around like she wanted to make sure she wasn’t on a hidden camera game show. As I finished pumping the gas, she asked where on Marsalis the church is located. I told her and asked her what her name was in case she visits the church. As we were about to go our separate ways she said, “Wow! You are just out here paying for people’s gas. They don’t make them like you anymore.”
There are several lessons that I took away from that encounter.
The building metaphor is a rich and powerful one for families. Think about what it takes to build. It takes a plan, materials, tools, and labor. If any element is missing, then nothing gets built. God’s word is our blueprint for building our families. Without it, the effort of building is pointless. While the blueprint is available to all of us, we must be willing to follow it. There is a high price for not following the plans of God. Jeremiah 6:19 (NASB) states, "Hear, O earth: behold, I am bringing disaster on this people, The fruit of their plans, Because they have not listened to My words, And as for My law, they have rejected it also.”
The quality of what is built is determined to a large degree by the quality of the building materials. The foundation must be built upon the solid rock of Jesus, not on the shifting sands of society. We must work to keep our families focused on what God values and not on what our culture says is important.
Quality construction also depends on the proper use of tools to assemble the materials. God’s blueprint calls for our families to be built with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When paired with the tools of healthy communication, conflict resolution, and forgiveness strong families are built.
As you go throughout the week, ask yourself some reflective questions. Will I commit/re-commit to using the word of God as the blueprint for my life? What materials and tools do I need to strengthen me and my family? What three things will I do differently for the next three weeks to help strengthen me and my family?
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.