Everyone experiences relational conflict. It's part of the human condition. Moms, dads, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors, co-workers.
Breakdowns in relationship are normal. Today I'm going to talk about five specific ways to resolve relational conflict. You're not going to want to miss it. Stay with me. Chip's our Bible teacher for this international discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. In just a minute, we'll pick up in our series, I Choose Peace, as Chip continues teaching us how to foster unity and harmony in our relationships. And be sure to keep listening after today's message for some practical advice and wisdom from Chip on this topic.
You won't want to miss it. Well, if you have a Bible handy, turn now to Philippians chapter 4 for the second half of Chip's talk in relational conflict. Just go to a coffee shop sometime and act like you have earphones on. And just listen to everybody. Just listen to everybody.
It's really fun to tell the truth. And 80% of the conversations, well, I don't know what he's thinking, you know, he plays golf three times a week and he expects me to take care of the kid and blah, blah, blah. Well, my roommate, you know what, in the refrigerator, this is my side and this is her side and I paid for everything and this is what she did. And, you know, my supervisor, I think he's on drugs, you know, and I think, right? You go to, people are talking about someone else.
And what's it do? Gasoline on the fire. He says, get your focus upward.
And not only this, he says, hey, there's something. Are you ready Christians? You ready small group? Ready family?
There's something actually more important than are you happy and are you getting along and is this person going to quickly come and apologize? He says, you have a personal responsibility. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. The Lord is near. The Lord is near could mean, you know, he's available, but in the context, the Lord is near. The Lord is near as he's coming back.
That's what he just talked about. Life is short. You're going to be judged. I'm going to be judged. So he says, let your gentleness, we don't have a single English word to translate this. He's basically saying, okay, get your focus upward in the midst of this conflict, whole church and you two ladies. Let your gentleness, let your forbearance, let your geniality, let your generosity, that's the idea of this word, let your consideration. As one commentator said, let your sweet reasonableness, the essence would be something that would go like this, be willing to accept less than your due in this relationship for the sake of the broader message of the reputation of Christ. It's sort of like saying, you know what, I'm not going to be proved right.
I'm not going to own not just the 5% I think, I'm going to go ahead and own 51% of this so we get the ball moving. And I'm willing to humble myself because this relationship being right is more important than me being right. Do you get it? That's the point. This takes huge humility.
So how do you do it? Each of these verses I think give us a very specific application about how to resolve or diffuse problem relationships. And you'll learn in just a minute why I say I choose peace because what I'm going to ask you to do, in fact it's what God is asking you to do, is to stop putting it off, stop rationalizing, stop saying it will get better in time. Stop saying things like, well I know how they're going to respond so why try? Relationships really matter to God.
And if there's someone in your family or someone in the body of Christ especially. And so number one, resolve to stop procrastinating. The word resolve. In other words I'm going to ask you as God's representative for this little tiny moment to make a commitment to address the problem relationship that came to your mind in the next seven days.
Make a commitment. It might be the beginning, it might be I'm going to talk with someone, it might be hey I need to talk with a counselor, it might be I'm going to schedule an appointment. If you don't deal with it, are you ready? You're under stress. It's impacting your body. You know a lot of times when we go to the refrigerator or eat or drink too much of something or some of you that are wrestling with addictions, do you understand the problem is not the alcohol, it's not the drug, it's not the internet. When there is a lack of peace, when there's that unsettled, that soul, you will fill it with something that will give you a pseudo peace short term.
And then it will require a bigger shot of that something to keep that artificial peace for a while until you find yourself looking up in some ditch with tons of pain. We have a command. We want to be Romans 12 Christians. Romans 12 17 says, respect what is right in the sight of all people. As far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
All men, Christians, non-Christians, workers, supervisors, neighbors. The word respect literally means to consider and the word is like an accounting term. It's a thoughtful, pondering, stepping back.
It's consider. It's where you get out of they wronged you and they did this and they did that and here's all the reasons they should and you just pause and have an out of body experience. I don't mean this in a new age way. And you actually look at the situation and you say, from their perspective, how possibly could they see themselves as being right? Oh, their gifts are more this way than mine. They come from this kind of a family.
They were wounded in the past like that. And oh, gosh, you know, if I was trying to be objective, those two points were actually pretty true, but they made me defensive. It's how can you consider, not that you agree, just consider what's right in their eyes. You do understand that people don't wake up like, I want to ruin every relationship and be a jerk. That's my goal.
No one does that. When they're being a jerk and ruining the relationship, however they're acting makes sense to them. So what you want to find out is how could this possibly make sense because understanding is the first step toward any kind of restitution or resolution or healing or forgiveness.
Second, re-evaluate your expectations. Especially those of us that are followers of Jesus, you know, we have this expectation. Christians should never argue. Christians should never have tension in a relationship. Christians should never have a falling out. So if we do, there's got to be a bad person. Can I ask you in this text, is there a bad person?
Is there? I mean they both contended for the faith. They're going to be in heaven. Part of Paul's going, ladies you're going to have a long time, you might as well start getting along now. But we have this idea that if there's tension and if you share it, now sometimes we don't share it in the best way, but the expectation that everything's going to be sort of Jesus, meek and mild, everything's wonderful. Or to expect that he's a Christian businessman or she is a Christian mom and she cut me off in the pickup line for the Christian school.
And then I don't think she was pointing where to go with that finger actually. And she calls herself a Christian. He says he's a Christian leader and, right, you fill it in. So you're a follower, all of us that happen to be followers of Christ, so you've never done that, right? You've never said things that you would be ashamed of.
You've never acted in ways. I'm memorizing a verse right now because God, some of us are sort of, I call rescuers and some of us are warriors. Rescuers want everything fixed now. We have to make this right.
Everything has to be smooth. Warriors are justice warriors. You need to see what the issue is and own your stuff. Can anyone imagine which one I might be? I married a rescuer. We can fix this.
Calm, quiet, lovely Teresa. I'm like, that's wrong. Until they admit they're wrong, until they come clean, you know. Here's your expectation. It's never going to come out the way you have pictured in your mind of them, you know, in your anger fantasies. Oh, I just want you to know that everything I said was wrong. I was a terrible person. I can't believe what I said. You are wonderful and I am terrible. Could we be friends again?
I mean, we actually play those things kind of out in our mind. Conflict is real. New Testament. Barnabas and Paul.
Paul's a murderer. No one believes he's really come to know Jesus except one guy, Barnabas. Barnabas says, hey, I'll help you. Introduces him to the apostles.
He goes off, gets some training from the Lord. Years later he comes back and he and Barnabas are part of launching this amazing church in Antioch where Gentiles, it's the first Christian church. And in Acts 13 they're all praying and God says, set apart for me Barnabas and Paul. Not Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas is the leader. And his name is the son of encouragement.
Exhortation gifts, loving, very generous. And he's got this, I mean, this great intellect communicator. And so they go on this missionary journey. And God does amazing, amazing things. So then they're ready to do another one.
And they're discipling people. So Paul has found Timothy and says, why don't you go? And Barnabas said, John Mark, he's a good young guy. And they go on the second journey, as they go on the second journey, John Mark flakes out. So it got hard, it got difficult, we don't have details.
He quit and went back home. Well now they're ready for like, you know, the next round. And Paul says, we need to revisit the churches. And Barnabas says, well, yeah, we'll take John Mark because, you know, he didn't do so well. And I've been, here's the chipping room. This is not in the Bible.
Don't look for this little part. Here's Barnabas. You know, I've been, he's in my discipleship group and, you know, he has abandonment issues and he struggles with commitments. And, you know, he needs another chance and he's going to make it.
He's really going to make it. He needs to go on this trip. And Paul, driven, cleric, type A, mission from God, no. What do you mean no? I said no. He can't go?
No. Why? He flaked, the mission's too important, we can't put something in the hands of someone who's going to flake again. Barnabas says to Paul, by the way, this is all chipped.
Okay, don't be looking for accident team. But it's the heart of it. Barnabas goes, so who were you? You were a murderer and I helped you out, where would you be? Hey, that's different. The mission is what counts. And by the way, you know, sometimes we read the Bible and if you've ever been in a Jewish culture and high powered people, this was not Barnabas going, Paul, I really think we should take him. And Paul going, well swell Barney, but you know, I just don't really think it's going to work. This went something like this.
I mean, they're going nuts. And it was never the same. Part of your expectation is, sometimes over non-doctrinal, non-moral issues, when you have different styles, different philosophies, some things happen and it's never going to be the same. And there's not a bad person. And so that's how you talk about them, not as a bad person. Third, get competent outside help.
Okay? If you're working on a relationship in your marriage, if you're working on a relationship at work, if you're working on a relationship with a friend, if it's someone in a small group and you just keep rubbing each other the wrong way and God has put on your heart, I need to do something so that we restore this relationship so there's peace. And every time you try, you just get more frustrated and it gets worse, it means you can't do it.
And that's not bad. Get outside help. I've told this and I'll tell it again and again and again and again, because especially for us men, when our wives say, we need outside help and we should go to a counselor, our reaction is, well, you can go if you want to, but I don't need that stuff. All the men are looking down. Because it's true. Don't give me that touchy-feely junk. What we really say is, man, that's an arena that's very, very threatening and I don't want to look at stuff in my life.
And that's where I was. I've been married nine months. I was in seminary to learn to preach the Word of God. And I can't get along with my wife.
I'm making a thousand dollars a month and the student discount rate is 90 or 95 dollars per session and I did 12 sessions with my wife. And the only thing that kept me from going, I wouldn't go for a couple weeks, was my arrogant pride that I didn't want to be seen as someone who is a, quote, seminary student who couldn't even get along with his wife. Humility is the channel through which grace flows. Five years later, we had another little bump. What we realized is we had all kind of issues to work through.
But it was amazing. Okay, well, this isn't a big deal. Let's go talk with someone. Get it out objectively. We've been talking for hours.
It's not working. And get some help. The help needs to be biblically wise, someone you respect, someone who's objective, not your friend or their friend, and someone that you can trust to say from a biblical perspective, here's how you two can bring some things to resolution. And both of you will hear some things you don't want to hear. And both of you will walk away going, I've now decided to stop demanding the other person change for our marriage to be what it needs to be because I can't control that. But here's what I've learned about me that I need to change and I'm going to work on that with you, whether he or she responds or not. Some of you, that's your application. For others, it's a business relationship and you need some outside help.
Fourth, refuse to allow one relationship to ruin your life. If you are a rescuer and it has to be fixed until everyone sits down, until you feel ooey gooey about everything, and it's just the way, you know, and it happens in churches. It's just crazy stuff like, you know, you led the Bible study last year, but then someone had a health issue and you had to be out of town and someone filled in for you, and it's coming around again and they're asking her to lead it instead of you. Oh, why they cut me out and then you talk to your friends and now they got this. Or you, you know, how about this one, you know, I've worked on the parking team and this was my corner and I love this corner and, you know, I got cancer and I was out, you know, four months and I came back to the parking team and someone else had my corner. Can you believe it?
He's got my corner on the parking team. You're laughing, but I've been doing this church stuff for like 35 years. It's worse than that. They changed the colors. We put flowers up here and we put them here after the funeral and someone put them off to the sides and those were for my husband. And now that they hate everybody, do you understand some of you are held captive? I had a little gal, she was 14 at the time, came up after the service and talked about her dad left when she was 14. And she was in tears and distraught. This was years later. And I told her, I said, are you going to give him the power?
Are you going to forgive him? No relationship since then. Some of you have a relationship like that. And it's an ex or it's one of your kids that doesn't call and you have resentment. Now, I want to give you a tool about how to start a conversation so that in your zeal you don't blow it up.
And I'll do that at the very end. But you have to make a decision first. Don't let one relationship, as far as it depends on you. When you take the step, I'm not even telling you they'll respond well. They don't have to respond well. But when you, as far as it depends on you, have done all that you can, you step back, you be at peace with them.
Because we all have this. But we rarely deal with it. And part of it is we don't know how. And the bigger part is that we have so reframed it in our mind.
They're terrible and bad and it's none of our fault. The worst time I've had in my life was a little over 10 years ago. And I felt like, and I'm certain that part of my perspective was really true, that I went through the biggest betrayal of my whole life. And it was just, it was the rawest deal. I mean, I was so angry I couldn't, you talk about the digital alarm, you know, 1-11, 2-04, 3-17, it just, like every night like that.
You know, when I had to drive in the car, I had to put on music or something or my stomach would grind with, you know, pictures of people and what they said in different meetings. And I was livid. And I had a friend really help me. And we sat down one day and he was really helping me get through all this and giving me, you know, get vertical.
It was really good. I mean, I haven't been a pastor for a lot of years. Like, I wasn't stupid about what I needed to do.
It was just hard to do it. And he said, could you do me a favor? Yeah. I said, yeah, this is really, there's certainly some raw deals here. Yeah, that's right. Jack, you're right.
He said, so, but I want you to do something for me. Yeah. I want to meet here.
I can tell you right where I was sitting. Next week, right here, same time. Okay?
Yeah. And I want you to pray for seven days. And I want you to list all the mistakes that God reveals to you that you made in all your time and all the specific ways that you sinned against the people in question. And you're my friend.
He's a godly guy. And I did. I remember coming back and sitting at the same place, getting my Diet Coke, leaning forward, and when tears gone well, you know, and I can see I pushed their buttons. These were such stupid leadership mistakes. And the sin part was hard, but I prayed, God showed me these seven things.
I wrote them down, gave them to me. It's amazing how much we say, oh God, I want justice, but from you I want mercy. And that was the turning point because I realized I couldn't ask, I couldn't ask God to give me mercy for all of this and then give me justice for them.
And was able to, are you ready for some of you? Just let it go. They're never going to see it that way. For some of you others, it's not going to get fixed.
There's not a little bow. You're not going to sing Kumbaya. You're not going to go shopping together and have lunch again. But you can agree to disagree, you can forgive, and you can move forward as far as it depends on you. The final point, and I want you to jot this one down, is remember a right response is more important than being right. A right response is more important than being right. Let your gentleness be evident to all.
Life is too short. And part of a right response, at least in my experience, is even in apologies, I had a situation recently where I, conversation got really intense and then I looked at this guy's face and realized, oh my gosh. Man, I just poured cold water on him and his confidence and, you know, went home, went to bed and, you know, one of those where God just wakes you up. And, Lord, what am I going to do? That was, and normal, you know, I'm like you, you're flesh, you always want to defend yourself. And, wow, there was this, this, this and this. And God said, you know what, I'll take care of this, this, this and this. How about this on you? And I just wanted those where, I mean, it was just so, just own more than you need to own if necessary. Because what I can tell you is whatever your perspective is, you're like me, you're more guilty and you're more messed up than you think.
So if you think it's like 25%, your fault, go for 50 or 60. And I remember just realizing the only thing I could do as far as it depends on me, I just, dear so and so, I want to apologize for bup-bup-bup-bup-bup. I want to apologize for saying this bup-bup-bup-bup-bup. I want to apologize for bup-bup-bup-bup-bup.
I want to apologize, actually, I said this, I was obviously defensive because it wasn't even true. And I was just able to say, you know, this is such a godly man, and I just, I just needed to repent. And, you know, he's so godly, saw him two days later, so supportive, so loving, I got it, you're forgiven.
That, can I tell you, that's normal. If you're, if you want to accomplish something with your life, you want a great marriage, there's sparks. You want a great relationship with your adult kids, you bring up stuff that's uncomfortable. But you have to bring it up in a, in a way that doesn't throw gasoline on a fire, but brings truth covered in love. Turn to the back page, and this is what all I want to ask you to do, is I want you to ask yourself on a scale of one to ten, what level of stress and concern are you having? In terms of any relational problems, and then sit down to question four, is there anyone that, as you're sitting here, God is saying, you need to, you need to address this? And then the question is, who could help you? And the one tool, it's on the bottom, it's not a Christian book, but it's called Crucial Conversations, Tools for Talking When Stakes are High. Written by Patterson, Jenny McMillan, Schweitzer, I don't know anything about them, all I can tell you, three or four people told me, finally my son said, Dad, you're in ministry and you haven't read this book? No.
Well, I read it. And it is the most helpful pathway to love people and put hard things on the table that doesn't threaten. I want you to bow your head and I want you to ask the Lord, Lord, what do you want me to do? What do you want me to do? Can you imagine the healing that occur in families, extended families, small groups, this church, neighborhoods, if you, all of us, do what God is showing us? Lord, we love you, we thank you, and we praise you. And I ask now that you give courage, supernatural courage and faith, to every single person in this room, every single person that ever hears or watches this, Lord, that you would bring healing. Because what happens is you grant peace and we thank you. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram and the message you just heard in Relational Conflict is from our series, I Choose Peace.
Chip will be back to share some insights from today's talk in just a minute. Have you ever thought about what it means to be at peace? Is it just a fulfilling job, happy household, financial security? Well, many people put stock in those things, but they don't last.
Eventually, the shine wears off. In this 12-part study of Philippians Chapter 4, Chip explains where this attitude of discontentment comes from and the ways it steals our joy. Stay with us as we learn how to move beyond that temporary feeling of calmness to a lasting peace-centered life. To help you on this journey, during this series, we're offering every listener a copy of Chip's popular book, I Choose Peace, at no cost. We want to encourage you to completely lean on God and trust Him through the highs and lows of life. So to learn how to get your free copy of I Choose Peace, go to livingonttheedge.org or text PEACE to 74141. That's the word PEACE, P-E-A-C-E, to 74141.
Limit one book per customer while supplies last. Well, Chip's with me in studio now to talk about a really important issue that's close to his heart. Chip?
Thanks so much, Dave. You may not know it, but there's about 8 billion people on the planet Earth, and almost one-third of them, 2.4 billion, call themselves Christians. And yet their research shows that only a tiny fraction of those people who call themselves Christians actually live in a way that produces what Jesus would call spiritual fruit. They haven't moved beyond spiritual empathy. In other words, they need help to grow and to mature. And at Living on the Edge, helping Christians live like Christians is the core purpose. In other words, it's why we exist.
We're convinced that God has called every single believer to mature, to become like Christ, to become the kind of parent, the kind of person, the kind of boss, the kind of employee that reflects the character and the life of the Lord Jesus. But people need help to do that, and maybe you're one of them. Maybe you're a person who's listened to the broadcast or has done a Living on the Edge small group or gone through daily discipleship. I mean literally hundreds of thousands, millions of people have been through some of our material that's helped you mature. And what I would ask you is, would you be willing to pay it forward? Would you become a monthly partner? At a small amount, a medium amount, a big amount, if each one of us would just give some each month, it would allow us to help those spiritual babies grow to maturity and then make a difference in their marriage and then in their families, in their communities and in their churches.
And when that happens, God does a great work. I'd like to invite you to become a monthly partner with Living on the Edge. Thanks, Chip. As you prayerfully consider your role with this ministry, I want to remind you that every gift is significant.
When you partner with Living on the Edge, you multiply our efforts and resources in ways only God can do. To set up a recurring donation, go to livingonthedge.org or the Chip Ingram app. You can also text DONATE to 74141.
That's the word DONATE to 74141. We appreciate your support. Well, with that, here again is Chip to share a few final words. As we wrap up today's program, I want to ask you something very personal. Who did the Lord bring to your mind as I was wrapping up the teaching time?
I mean, who was it? And before you start into, oh, I'm not really all that mad, it's not that big a problem, et cetera, et cetera, just who did God bring to your mind? And what I want you to know now is that the Lord is giving you an opportunity to choose peace. Most of us shove this to the side, write people off, pretend it's not a problem, often get depressed because we don't ever deal with the issues, the resentment, the bitterness, the anger. Unresolved conflicts don't get better with time.
They get better with faith and action and courage. And I gave you five specific ways. In fact, you may want to go to our website and download these notes and review them a few times before you act on them. But let me do a review. Number one, resolve to stop procrastinating. I want you to put a date on the calendar.
I mean, open your phone and stick it on a day that I'm going to act on this. I'm going to start the process of resolving this conflict. Number two, reevaluate your expectations. I mean, we talked about that, but I mean, you really think this person's entire personality and perspective is going to change overnight? You know, what can you reasonably expect and can you just do as far as it depends on you? Maybe things won't be wonderful, but as far as it depends on you, you could say, Lord, I've done my part. Third, get competent outside help.
If you could have solved it on your own, it would have been solved by now. I'm so glad that in my marriage and in at least a couple really difficult work situations, I've needed someone else to come in and be that objective third party to help both of us learn and grow. Number four, refuse to allow a relationship to ruin your life.
I mean, do you realize how much time, how much energy, how much stomach acid, how many conversations you've had with other people about this? Don't let one relationship ruin your life. And finally, remember that your right response matters way more to God than your rights. And so, Lord, I pray you said that the world would know that we are yours by the way that we love one another.
And when we don't, it screams that you're not true. And Father, not just for our sake, but we pray right now for your reputation, that you would give each one of us right now courage and faith to follow these steps. And Father, I pray you bring unity and peace and resolution. Lord, first for your glory and then for the resolution and the joy that you want in our relationships with one another.
In Jesus' name, Amen. Thanks, Chip. And in case you missed some of the points Chip just reviewed, they're pulled straight from his message notes, which is a tool available for every program. So let me encourage you to get this resource before you listen to us again. Chip's notes include his outline, all of the scripture references, and lots of fill-ins to help you remember what you're learning. They'll really help you get the most out of every program. Chip's message notes are a quick download at livingontheedge.org under the broadcasts tab. App listeners just tap fill-in notes. Well, from all of us here, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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