Handling Conflict With Maturity #1

04 Jun

(I have begun a Sunday night sermon series: Handling Conflict With Maturity)

(These materials come from many sources over the years and I am indebted to the positive approach of each)

Could Paul, David, or Peter preach at this congregation? All are known as great men of faith and yet they committed terrible sins in their adult years trying to serve the Lord.

Peter denied Christ in spite of being warned about it beforehand. David’s sin of pride cost the death of 70,000 men in 1 Chronicles 21….was also an adulterer and a murderer…yet called a “man after God’s own heart.”

Perhaps Paul gives us words to encouragement if we’re having difficulty answering the question: (1 Timothy 1:15-16)  “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. {16} But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”

Conflict has been experienced by individuals since Adam and Eve. It has been in the church at least since Acts 6. Conflict is in the church today, and it will be in the church tomorrow. Some conflict can be prevented, and some is unhealthy.

Conflict-ResolutionThe fact remains, though, that conflict is inherent in meeting personal and group needs. When conflict emerges as a result of growth (personal or group) or in an attempt to grow, it is natural and potentially healthy for the individual and the group. Thus, growth-oriented conflict, if managed properly, is hopeful, and is a sign of spirituality.

 There are several environments even in the Bible where conflicts arise:

  • Binding laws God hasn’t bound (Matt. 15:1-9; Rev. 11:18; 3 John 9-11).
  • Releasing laws God hasn’t released (Rev. 22:18).
  • Worship styles (1 Cor. 10:23–11:1).
  • Gossip
  • Imposing traditions and culture for law (Col. 2:14-21).
  • Imposing outdated law(s) (Gal. 4:9-11).
  • Favoritism by parents (Rebecca/Jacob; Jacob/Joseph).
  • Love of money (1 Timothy 6).
  • Holding only a form of godliness.
  • Foolish arguments (1 Tim. 3:3; 6:3-5; 2 Tim. 2:14; 2:23-24).
  • Constant chatter.
  • Hatred (Jacob/Esau).
  • Pride.
  • Preacheritis (1 Cor. 1:10-13).
  • Mind Sets (Rom. 14:1–15:7; 1 Cor. 8:1-13).
  • Words: Unkind and/or wrong time (Prov. 15:1)
  • Teaching TRUTH at the wrong time (1 Cor. 3:1-2; Heb. 5:12-14)
  • Meddling in quarrels w/o an invitation (Prov. 26:17; Deut. 24:11).
  • Value Systems.
  • Demanding a right (1 Cor. 9:1-22).
  • Not keeping one’s word.
  • Slander
  • Mocking.
  • Selfishness.
  • Temper
  • Anger.

 Some of the conflicts come as a result of our own preconceived ideas: the conflict between the “church of faith” and the “church of fact.” We think those in the church ought to be perfect…but we’re not perfect. And if we found a church that perfect, we’d not fit in!

These issues remind me of a saying I heard many years ago: “To dwell above with those we love, oh, that will be glory! But to live below with those who know, well, that’s another story.”

I have this statement on my desk as a daily reminder: “To err is human; to blame it on the other guy is even more human.”

 (1 John 1:9)  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

(1 John 4:20-21)  “If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. {21} And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

 There are some conflicts which can be prevented

Some conflicts can be prevented if the individuals involved genuinely accept the fact that personal and group conflict is inevitable. Failure on the part of the group to accept this fact will contribute to unnecessary conflict. This deception influences members to use denial as a defense mechanism to keep them from facing conflict when it emerges. Conflict is dynamic; therefore, the longer it is avoided in continuing relationships, the more it grows.

Some conflicts can be prevented if the group has planned realistically and adequately for conflict resolution or management once it emerges. In many congregations there are no plans, much less realistic and adequate ones, for resolving or managing conflict.

Some conflicts can be prevented if the group members accept that when conflict emerges, it does not necessarily mean that the persons involved are guilty of sin or that they will sin by confronting it. Group leaders and members need to perceive clearly that conflict is inherent in being both an individual and a member of a group. Conflict in and of itself is not sinful. The ones who are in conflict may sin by the way they respond to each other verbally or nonverbally, but conflict in itself is not sinful.

Some conflicts can be prevented if the group members have realistic expectations of themselves. Many conflicts emerge because the group members have expectations of themselves which just are not realistic. Some of their expectations are as follows:

  • We should like each other all the time and never dislike one another.
  • We should always smile and be in a good mood.
  • We should always be joyful and never sad.
  • We should always be in agreement with each other and never disagree with one another – especially the leaders.
  • We should always be on the mountain peak and never in the valley of the mountain, or we should always be up and never down.
  • We should always count our assets (blessings) and never our liabilities (problems or conflicts).

Some conflicts can be prevented if the leaders and the group members set realistic and achievable goals for themselves. They must then focus on the process of achieving them instead of focusing on the goals themselves. Conflict within the group may arise from a failure to set goals, or it may result from the setting of unrealistic goals. Also, conflict may emerge as a result of focusing only on the goals instead of on the means to achieve them.

Some conflicts can be prevented if each member learns how to mind his own business. Considerable conflict may result from a member focusing on another instead of learning to think and speak for himself.

(Proverbs 26:17) “Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.”

(1 Thessalonians 4:11-12) “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, {12} so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

 There are some conflicts which are unhealthy

1. A conflict is unhealthy if it is the result of the members accusing, blaming and ridiculing each other, or if they take this approach in trying to resolve an otherwise healthy conflict.

2. A conflict is unhealthy if it results from trivia and not substance. Another way of expressing the same concept is that group members must grow to the point where they differentiate their opinions from matters of faith.

3. A conflict is unhealthy if the members are arguing about words and engaging in godless chatter to avoid the deeper Intrapersonal and interpersonal components of their conflict.

(2 Timothy 2:14-17) “Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. {15} Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. {16} Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. {17} Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,”

(2 Timothy 2:23-26) “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. {24} And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. {25} Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, {26} and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

(Titus 3:9-11) “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. {10} Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. {11} You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”

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Posted by on June 4, 2014 in Sermon


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