Check out, “Watching Our Words” by Jacob C. Price

jacobblogMy son, Jacob, has written a new blog post entitled, “Watching Our Words,” where he explores the affect of words on our relationships and, as a part of a larger series he’s working on, “Becoming a Young Gentleman in the 21st Century”.

I had the privilege of being interviewed by him for this segment (his first interview), so I hope you will take a few minutes and listen to that at the bottom of his post.

I appreciate you supporting him in this as he hones both his writing and his life skills.  Let us know if you have any feedback or encouragement along the way.

Conflicting Times: Handling Relational Challenges

conflictsConflict happens. There is no way around it. If you care about someone or work closely with someone, you spend more time with them. If you spend more time with them, you have more opportunity to annoy each other or miscommunicate. If you have more opportunity, conflict happens. So, the question is not whether or not you can always avoid conflict, but how to prevent relational casualties when conflict arises.

Here are a few suggestions to help us wade through the mire of conflict management:

1.  Start with YOU.

Chances are, you are at least partially responsible for any conflict you’re in.  Honestly identify your role.  If you’re a follower of Christ, pray that your level of culpability will be revealed.  Humble yourself to the point where you are prepared to repent and make the necessary changes to minimize the potential for conflict over the same issues in the future.

2. Expect the best.

If this is someone you know well and care for, there is a really good chance that what they said or did was not intended to do you harm.  Sure, in anger, we say things that are intended to sting or offend.  Yet, even in those times, it is usually raw emotion rather than a calculated effort to harm you.

A dog that is otherwise a loyal pet, will often snap at her owner if she has been injured.  Her instinct of self-preservation tells her to protect at all cost, even lashing out at someone she normally “loves” (to whatever extent that applies to dogs).

We often act in the same way if we feel personally or emotionally threatened or hurt.  In those cases, we need to show that person grace.  Even criminals are given the benefit of a presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.  Surely those close to us expect at least that much consideration.  Expecting the best takes us off of the offensive and allows us to reflect on what we know about the other person. (Philippians 4: 8)

3.  Forgive ahead of time.

Don’t wait for the apology (which hopefully will come), but determine that the relationship is more important than this incident.  This will put you on a good footing to fight for the relationship.  Even if the other person is not ready to apologize, communicate your hurt honestly but determine to let the offense go.

Any time we harbor bitter feelings, we suffer as much as the person we’re upset with: lost sleep, anxiety, lack of focus on anything other than the offense.  Harboring ill feelings are destructive on so many levels that it is not worth whatever “satisfaction” we get from holding a grudge.  (Ephesians 4:32)

4.  Talk it out!

The most natural thing for us to do when we are offended or hurt is to avoid the other person at all cost.  We wait for them to come to us, which makes reconciliation impossible if there is a stand-off.  Act like an adult, confront the fear, push aside the awkwardness and deal with the issue head-on.  Remember, the relationship is worth it!  Even if you know it’s going to be a lengthy and painful confrontation, the relationship is worth it.  The longer you wait, the harder it gets and the more likely that thoughts, feelings and emotions that weren’t initially a part of the situation will be brought into our thinking which simply makes reconciliation more difficult.

The passing of time following a disagreement rarely, if ever, make the situation better.  Yes, sometimes a “cooling off” period is helpful, but rarely should that take more than a few hours.  Follow the biblical mandate to not let the sun go down on your anger! (Ephesians 4:26; Matthew 5:23-24)

Stronger Than Ever

Working through conflict is rarely easy, but when it’s done and reconciliation happens (which, sadly, doesn’t always happen), you will experience a stronger relationship with that person than before the conflict occurred.  We often find an increased respect and trust in the individuals whose friendship has now been “tried by fire” and proven to be stronger than before.  Yes, it’s hard work, but if it’s a relationship that was worth building in the first place, it is always worth the work it takes to sustain it!

Are there some other steps that you would take in resolving conflicts?  Let me hear them in the comments section below.

 

T-Shirt Theology

CrossHillBWI’m often amazed at how easy it is to become so focused on a thought we want to convey that we lose sight of truth, often derailing the very point we set out to make.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

This morning, I heard a guy on the radio make the following statement:

The cross was no cosmological accident; no knee-jerk reaction. It was a calculated plan. The moment the forbidden fruit touched the mouth of Eve, the shadow of the cross appeared on the horizon.

Sounds, beautiful, no? It really does.

“The moment the forbidden fruit touched the mouth of Eve, the shadow of the cross appeared on the horizon”.

That could be printed on a T-shirt and sold for $15 with every major Bible bookstore stacking it on its shelves.

The only problem is that, in spite of claiming that the cross was no knee-jerk reaction, the explanation sounds like a knee-jerk reaction.

Think about it.

According to this statement, the cross was a response to the action of Eve. Sounds logical, right?  Problem arises, solution follows.  Sounds palatable. But is it accurate?

If that’s true, then this is false:

18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. [1 Peter 1:18-21. Emphasis added]

And this:

7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. [Revelation 13:7-8. Emphasis added]

In these two passages, both communicating a pre-determined plan of God prior to the creation of the world,  the first part of the above quote is affirmed: The cross was no cosmological accident or knee-jerk reaction. The second part, however, implies the opposite.

Though it sounds good, it’s not good. The only way for this not to be a knee-jerk or something that God had to react to (an assault on his omniscience) is for it to have been part of his plan from the beginning. That affirms the passages in 1 Peter and Revelation.  If that was what was meant, it’s not what was communicated.

Somehow, God had planned to reveal Christ to the world long before creation in the exact way in which He did. At the right time, God began to put the plan in motion (i.e. when the fruit was tasted and the fall occurred), revealing to us the glorious Christ as it unfolded.

I admit, that makes for a bad t-shirt, but it makes for a wonderful, sovereign, omniscient God.

It is especially important for those of us who are charged with communicating Truth to the masses (but applies to anyone conveying Truth), to be extra careful with our theology so that, in our desire for pithy slogan-making and sentimental ideas, we don’t misrepresent the character of God and miscommunicate the very Truths we are trying to convey.

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