When you hear something discouraging said about you, what do you do?
Now, when you hear something discouraging said about you, within the body of Christ, what do you do?
I’m Filipino, so naturally, there are two things that take involuntary effect:
1) is to go into pride mode (defensive):
This means, I’m typically right and party B, C, and/or D are wrong. Subsequently, statements thus are made:
a) “Who are they to judge?” Quote verse on judging. Proceed to point out their faults and inumerate.
b) “So and so told me that they’re guilty of so and so.” Start forming alliances and make sure to name drop to gain credibility.
2) go into beast mode (offensive):
a) “They’re going to hear it from me.” Then start compiling bullet points verbally to make sure you have a bulletproof case against set party.
b) “Fine, I’m not even going to go near them. I’ll leave. See if they like it.” Start inumerating your merits and how much you’ve done for them/the cause.
Then the voluntary effect:
1) go into passive/aggressive mode:
We end up not communicating, instead hold an enormous grudge and silent vendeta against the other party and let our words velvet-like seep into other people’s ears, corrupting and influencing, forming alliances and biases, until the church is rich with juicy gossip, divided, unloving, fake, and repulsed of the sight of a brother or sister in Christ. Sometimes, we even go through lengths to even leave what once was a family.
We’re so sensitive, aren’t we? When we hear something about ourselves, even if it’s something we know can be negotiable, we still cling to our justifications to the last measure. And yes, we probably have a case unheard, misunderstood, and miscommunicated, but it’s how we react that isn’t so Christ-like.
Conflicts are inevitable, but resolution- not so much. Instead of trying to understand each other and forming a relationship building solution, we attack each other to prove more of our worth, our intellect, our merit, our agenda.
Tonight, I was faced with this. And admittedly, I underwent 1 and 2, indulging in prideful statements, explanations, and had viable reasons. But the ulitmate goal as a body of believers is to know Christ and make Christ known. I had to remember, despite great defense and a possible aggressive offense, I need to chill out and seek out a better way to build the body because ultimately, again, WE HAVE THE SAME GOAL. Even though, there could have been a better way to try to solve the problem instead of using our pointer fingers, WE HAVE THE SAME GOAL and WE NEED TO WORK TOGETHER TO SOLVE PROBLEMS, not escalate them.
So, in the number of years in ministry, I’ve learned (although not yet mastered), to try to keep level headed during conflicts.
1) Don’t believe in everything you hear. Remember, there are multiple sides to one story; then there’s the truth. Remember that people have imperfect perspectives and many things are lost in translation. Just because you’re closer to someone doesn’t mean you should only trust their side. This is where we can pray for discernment.
2) Communicate. This is really the hardest part. It’s hard because we tend to be quickly hot tempered, and don’t ask questions. Rather, we form our own opinions already and fly off the handle and go on offensive mode already when starting a confrontation. This is not communication, this is an agenda. This is a witch hunt. This is also hard for me. I can’t tell you how many times I had to go into a meeting having had to pray so I don’t get too heated before anything is accomplished, esp. healthy communication, which includes hearing the other person out.
3) Research. This is simple, yet, because of our explosive nature, we tend to get hurt too quickly, get defensive, get over-bloated. Simply, get the facts first. Maybe we just need to know the whole story, find credible sources.
4) Pray. We don’t pray because we feel a sort of entitlement to how we’re feeling. Sure, I get it, someone hurt us; we’re offended, so we don’t pray because that would mean we’d have to let God in and handle us, which usually means we can’t fly off the handle and scream at people, punch people in the face, or say things that would hit below the proverbial belt. We don’t want the Holy Spirit as a mediator…so let’s face it, praying before or during a meeting with someone is completely out of the question. But imagine what COULD happen if we prayed more during conflict. Hearts would be humbled if we allow ourselves to let God heal it out between people who may hate each other. It’s not easy to put aside anger, but we have to ask ourselves what is REALLY benefitting if we indulge in a confrontation without resolve.
5) We’re supposed to be on the same team. This is what I don’t get with Christians. We’re on the same team. I realize we’ll clash every now and then; we’ll have honest words out, have impulsive annoyances, react to ridiculous accusations, but if we allow rifts between relationships that eventually cause divisions in the church, how can we truly work together for God’s greater glory? Like it or not, believe it or not, we’re brothers and sisters, in the family of Christ, under the same banner, with the same Father. Look:
1 John 2:9 “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.”
Leviticus 19:17 “‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.”
1 John 3:15 “Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.”
6) Stop the gossip. Stop the madness. If this is your only contribution to church ministry and you’re wondering about church growth, rethink how gossip is affecting it. Gossip and criticism is not a relationship builder! Condemnation does not promote unity. IT CREATES FACTIONS, ALLIANCES through accusations and assumptions. IT CAUSES DIVISION and helps spread hate and judgment for fellow members. Here’s an idea, if you hear heresay, and you’re bothered by it, instead of telling someone else, go confront the person with the noose around their neck and follow the above steps 2,3,4, and 5. (Rinse and repeat). Let’s build the church in love. Imagine what can be accomplished if we just support one another instead of tear one another down in foolish talk?
So, yes, tonight, after hearing something that bugs me to the bone, I’m learning to let it go for the sake of peace. If it comes up again, hopefully there will be more dialogue instead of people talking without us being present, honesty to our faces instead of letting us hear it from friends so they can at least understand our struggle. But for now, I’m taking the high road with a lump in my heart, because we’re supposed to be family, forebearing one another, and trying not to be overly sensitive. I pray we can all do the same.
Conflicts arise. The question is ‘will there be resolution’?