“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…”
Ok, how many of you out there are still doing school? Hopefully you’re done or almost done…I still have a week and a half left. Hoping it goes by soon! When summer is in the air and you can hear people having a great time outside, it can be miserable to be stuck inside doing school. Not really miserable…just painful. You know what I’m talking about.
Anyway, that was way of topic, but today we will be talking about conflict and how to handle it. Conflict is pretty much unavoidable unless you’re a super hero or something (but even those guys get stuck in conflict, so maybe it is completely unavoidable..). It’s all about perspective and how you handle situations that come your way. The same applies to conflict.
The faster the problem is resolved, the better it is for everyone involved, including you. You know that if you don’t resolve the conflict, everything can get really ugly really fast. If everyone in a family that lived together decided not to allow any room for compromise in their selfishness, that place would be a wreck. A big one. But for all of you who live with a family, you know that compromise and conflict resolving are necessary and vital skills to living with other people.
In the same way, when you have a friend or sibling that you’re really close to, you have to keep the right focus. You have to realize that getting your way about a minor detail is not worth upsetting them and hurting your relationship with them over. When I wrote about dividing issues a while ago, I wrote that most things are not worth dividing over when you are working with someone. And the same applies for relationships. If you “test the water” and draw the conclusion that the other person really doesn’t want to give or discuss the issue at hand, you have to make a decision. Evaluate what is really important. In some cases, the issue might very well be more important that that relationship. But the best you can do, no matter the situation, is to pray about it and work through some steps mentally to decide what’s really important. You might be surprised to find that often, you can give a little. I know this has been very true for me.
When involved in conflict with others, many people simply just seek to get what they want. They do whatever they can, no matter the cost, to get what they desire. This is an awful mistake.
We have to realize that our actions have consequences not only for us, but for those around us as well. Life would be so much more simple for everyone (and us) if a person’s actions only affected that person. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. What we do, and what others do, affect us and those around us. For example, let’s say that you just tried to steal something from a store. It can be anything, big or small. For the sake of the argument, we’ll pretend it’s candy.
You try to steal this candy, but you get caught. The people at the store catch you, the burly security guard walks over, and you hand over the stolen “goods.” Who is affected in this example? Obviously, you were, the store’s workers were, and the people with you were as well.
My point with all of that is that our selfish tendencies affect other people. In some cases, it keeps them from receiving something they needed. In other cases, it affects your relationship with that person. You could even, by your selfishness, lead them into sin by provoking them to do something. If we approach conflict with a “finders keepers” attitude, we can limit others’ productivity for the kingdom of Christ, will limit our productivity for the kingdom, and affect our relationships with God and others.
When there is conflict, unity is split and distractions are created. Unity among believers is crucial to the spreading of the Gospel. A while ago, I came across something that Mike Donehey, the lead singer for the band Tenth Avenue North, said. I don’t remember it exactly (and I can’t find it), so I will just tell you the crux of his point. They pray before their shows that God would use them. And during one of these times, Mike felt that God was asking him if he would be alright if God used another band to really glorify Him that night, and Mike admitted that that wasn’t always his focus. He knew that they had to be “OK” if God used another band to glorify Him.
And that hits at the point of unity. As Christians, we have to be united in our pursuit of Him, bringing glory to Him, and sharing Him with others. If we allow secondary issues to get to such a point that they divide us or take our focus from what it needs to be, we need to spend some time praying and working through those things with the people we are working with.
Look at these verses I found about unity:
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” -Psalm 133:1
“I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” -John 17:23
“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” -1 Corinthians 1:10
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.“ -Ephesians 4:1-3
Like I’ve said in previous posts in this series, Collin, Wyatt, and I have had a crash-course in conflict management and resolution, and we’ve really progressed. Since I’ve given other examples of our conflict resolution, this example doesn’t have to do with us.
How many of you are aware that the World Cup is happening starting tomorrow? For those of you not familiar with the World Cup, it is the highest level competition for players. The best players from 32 countries that made the World Cup are called up to represent their country in this tournament. It is an extreme honor to be called up to play at this event for your nation. If you’re having a hard time understanding, it’s like the Olympics. Also, like the Olympics, it happens once every four years.
Anyway, whenever there are team events, it’s always interesting to study how the coaches and players interact as a big group. This tournament is no different. There is something that my dad has noticed from coaching my soccer team: you can always tell the other team is on the verge of falling apart when they start fighting with their own teammates and coaches. It never fails!
Since I’m familiar with sports, I’m using this comparison to show how destructive conflict can be. If you follow politics, you know that conflict over issues can completely divide parties. In sports, if you start getting on your teammates for messing up, that makes them mad at you. Then other people on your team pick sides. Then instead of focusing on playing as a team and trying to beat the other team, now you are trying to beat your teammates that think you’re wrong. It completely distracts you from the main goal. And when you are distracted, that is when you are the most vulnerable.
If you don’t take care of it right away, the other team usually finds a way to score (or get really close) and then it gets harder and harder to “right the ship” because things only get worse.
Back to the World Cup. This week, I challenge you to watch a little of the World Cup, and see if you can find instances of conflict between players from the same team. See what they do right, what they do wrong, and how the situation was avoidable. And finally, how they can get out of it. It might seem like a strange idea, but just try it. I think you’ll be surprised!
USA all the way,
PS: If you live outside of the U.S. and are following the World Cup, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment and tell us where you are watching from.