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Winning at Conflict, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
February 29, 2024 9:00 am

Winning at Conflict, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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February 29, 2024 9:00 am

If you think the Son of God never engaged in conflict while he was on earth, then think again! Jesus had lots of interpersonal conflicts, but they were always done from a place of love.

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J.D. Greear

Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. First of all, be a servant listener. A servant listener means that you're seeking first to understand and secondly, to be understood. Take turns and make sure they have a chance to express themselves fully. And when you interrupt somebody, what you're saying is your thoughts aren't that important.

My thoughts are what's important. James says, be quick to listen. He doesn't say be in a hurry listening.

Be quick means step up to the plate quickly, but listen fully. Welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Now, if you think the Son of God never engaged in conflict while He was here on earth, think again. Jesus had lots of interpersonal, shall we say, disagreements, but in the end, they always come from a place of love. Today, Pastor J.D. concludes the teaching series titled Forever Family by sharing with us what Christ-like confrontation looks like so that we can engage with others to pursue justice and harmony while still maintaining strong relationships.

Remember, if you missed any of the previous messages in this series, you can listen to them all free of charge at jdgreer.com. So grab your pen and let's join in as he shares the characteristics of Christ-like confrontation. When God says you're praying like an adulterer, what He is saying is you're asking me for something that you feel like having that thing, you're dependent on having that thing in order for you to be happy. Why don't you find your happiness and security and fulfillment in me? Why do you feel like you cannot be happy unless you have that thing, right? God, I can't be happy unless He talks about me this way. God, I just cannot be happy.

Life is not worth living unless we make this amount of money. Well, God, I just can't keep my head up and I can't feel good about myself unless my kids turn out a certain way, go to a certain school, unless they're good, unless everybody praises them. God, I can't be happy unless I've got this level of freedom in my life and I just feel constrained in my family or my marriage.

God would say, you spiritual adulterer, why aren't I enough for you? Why can't you be happy with me and the plan that I'm laying out for you? So the point is what takes conflicts to a heated relationship killing level? Be honest. I know the other person's a fault.

I get that. But what takes it in your heart to a rage, to a point that it begins to fracture the relationship is that person is keeping you from what you want, from what you're entitled to, right? What you feel like you can't be happy without and that controls your emotions. And that's what James is saying, dominates your heart. So the first way to deescalate any conflict is just to acknowledge that and turn back to God. God, yes, this other person may be at fault, but ultimately I trust you to meet my needs, not that person. That person might be a vehicle for that, for you to do that through, but ultimately I trust in you, right?

You may still confront the person in their wrong, which we'll talk about in a moment, but it won't be from this desperate, raging, you've attacked the core of my life kind of place. Now, I love these promises. I love these promises.

Watch this. Think about conflict in light of these. Isaiah 26, three, I will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed upon you. When your mind is fixed upon God, trusting him to meet your needs, you'll have perfect peace, even in conflicts. In your conflicts, is it dominated by a sense of peace?

How about this one? Philippians 4, 6, be anxious for nothing. In everything, everything going wrong in that relationship, by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known unto God.

Something your spouse not doing for you, something a friend not doing for you, and you feel like I'm just angry about it. Why don't you tell God about it first? And then what will happen? Same thing Isaiah 26 says, right? Then the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, so that when you actually confront somebody for their wrong, it's no longer from this soul famish place where you're depriving me of that which is necessary for life. And instead you're coming to them out of love.

You're coming out of concern for them and not out of a deep soul need because you have learned first to take this to God. You understand Jesus had plenty of interpersonal conflicts with people. Read through the gospels and you will see that Jesus got in a surprising amount of arguments. In fact, as somebody pointed out, that read through the gospels, Jesus more often than not is either eating or arguing, which I feel like is a great sort of model for my own life, right? But his conflicts were always loving conflicts, selfless conflicts, conflicts done from that place of perfect personal peace, conflicts that confronted the wrong without escalating the conflict to relationship killing levels. So what does Christ-like confrontation look like? I told you that's the second thing we're going to do here.

I'll put together a little list that that is compiled from various places in the Bible of what non-idolatrous Christ-like conflict looks like, right? Let me give them to you. You can jot them down there. By the way, message transcript, as always, available, easy to access there online.

And if you're like, I can't write this fast, or I can't get all this down, just get the transcript and you can look at it later. Number one, Christ-like confrontation overlooks a lot. Proverbs 19, 11, it is to a man's glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 22, 16, the vexation of a fool is known at once, right? But the wise person ignores many insults. A fool is short-fused.

They just got to comment on everything. You poke them, they're going to immediately let you know, you poke me. You ever been around somebody like that? They just can't let anything go.

The wise, by contrast, let a lot go. In marriage, I usually think of this in terms of a tennis match. Imagine you and your partner as standing like on either side of a net, right? And you're just kind of hitting back and forth to each other, little soft love balls, you know, oh, I love you, no, I love you, you know, back and forth.

And then all of a sudden, one of you gets irritated about something. So when you hit the ball back, you put a little spice on it. So what is the person who receives that ball?

What do they do? Oh, that's what we're doing now. All right, you know, so you hit it back just a little bit harder and gradually it goes back and forth until it escalates to the point that you're now, you know, two feet from the net, each just, you know, hitting the ball as hard as you can at each other, screaming at each other, right? Well, that's one way to deal with it is to return in kind just a little bit more. But another way to deal with it is when that marriage partner puts a little spice on that first ball they're hitting over, you're like, oh, I'm just gonna let that go, right?

Let's let it bounce over there. I'm gonna pick up a new ball and I'm gonna hit it back nice and soft and try to reestablish the terms of the relationship. That's what Proverbs is saying. A wise person a lot of times will just let things go. Just, I'm not gonna spend a lot of time and the glory of a man or a woman is to ignore an insult. By the way, just to be clear, this does not apply to things that are doing lasting damage to your relationship. We'll talk about that in a minute or any kind of abuse, certainly. On the contrary, what I'm gonna tell you is that when you see somebody doing something that is causing long-term damage, either to them or to your relationship, the loving thing to do is to confront that person.

It might be easier just to keep the peace, but out of love for them, you have to speak up. Wisdom is knowing the difference, knowing when to let it go, when to speak up. In the words of that immortal theologian, Kenny Rogers, the secret to surviving, son, is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep, right? You know the words, you gotta know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, know when to run, right?

That's all I gotta say about that. Number two, Christ-like confrontation, let the light go. Number two, Christ-like confrontation is gentle.

Galatians 6 1 says it this way, if a person is overtaken in a fault, you who are walking with the Spirit should restore them gently. Well, what does gently mean? Gently means lovingly, respectfully, not selfishly. Here is a litmus test you can use. Are you excited to confront that person?

If so, then stop immediately because you are in sin. That is not gentle. Now, let me give you a few practical tips about gentle. In a confrontation, if you're wanting to be gentle, use I-language about your feelings rather than you-language about their actions. For example, rather than saying, you hurt me, say, I was hurt. Or instead of saying, you're never at home, say, I want to spend more time with you. Simply phrasing it that way can trigger compassion in their heart rather than than self-defense.

Here's another one. Avoid superlatives like always and never. For example, don't say, you always do that or you never do this because superlatives escalate the problem to the point that you're saying there's something fundamentally wrong with you.

You're always like this, you're never like this. That's not gentle. In the same way, attack the problem, not the person. Gentle confrontation is done with respect. For every one statement you make about what is wrong, you're making five or six about what you love and appreciate about them.

It also means you're avoiding all sarcasm and name calling because that's attacking the person. Also related to this, resolve one problem at a time. When you're talking about that issue, if a second issue comes up, you might jot it down a little note or make a note of it in your head, but don't talk about it right then. Avoid that piling on because that's going to take it away from the issue that you're trying to get it.

Here's one more. Avoid confronting your spouse publicly. I will tell you there was nothing, ladies, that will shut a man down like having his wife tear him down to somebody else. And the same thing applies, men, to you with your wives.

Spouses, of course, I've seen you never disagree in public. Sometimes you're going to disagree. My wife will be like, UVA is the best basketball program ever because they won the national championship last year. And I'll have to feel compelled to correct her.

I'll be like, no, UNC has won six national championships. And I feel like I need to set the record straight. But when that disagreement gets to the point of confrontation, that ought to be reserved for private spaces. Christlike confrontation is gentle.

By the way, let me prove this real quick. Matthew 21, after Jesus, probably the clearest place in the New Testament where he gets really angry and confronts people. Right after that, immediately, Matthew 21, 14, the lame and the blind, the most vulnerable, feel safe to approach him. So if you see someone raging in anger, then people who are vulnerable are going to stay away from that person. But after he did that, people came close to him who were vulnerable.

It shows you that even in his confrontation, he was gentle. Number three, Christlike confrontation listens twice as much as it talks. James 1 19 and 20, be slow to speak, quick to hear, slow to anger. Proverbs 18, 13, he who gives an answer before he hears, before he listens fully, it is a folly and a shame.

I'll say that is exactly what a lot of us do. You try to give an answer before you've heard fully, especially us men. Our own Brad Hambrick says the vast majority of communication problems are not expression problems. It's not that you're not expressing yourself clearly, it's they're listening problems. Let me give you on this some remedial help on listening, okay, because all of us are bad listeners. First of all, be a servant listener. A servant listener means that you're seeking first to understand and secondly to be understood.

Most of us are exactly the opposite. Like I'll make sure I'm understood first and then I'll try to understand. Flip that, don't interrupt. Take turns and make sure they have a chance to express themselves fully and when you interrupt somebody what you're saying is your thoughts aren't that important, my thoughts are what's important. James says be quick to listen.

He doesn't say be in a hurry listening, be quick means step up to the plate quickly but listen fully. If you don't know what to say, ask questions. If you still don't know what to say after that, ask more questions.

If you still don't know what to say after that, just repeat what the other person said back to them because a lot of times that's what the person most wants is for you to see and hear them, to know you feel their pain, just to be understood. By the way, the place that I learned that was not in my marriage. I learned that from a Delta representative. You may have heard me tell the story before but I got on a flight one time, you know you're trying to get your bag on the overhead compartment and it's like a hat because I had overstuffed it. It's like I mean a quarter inch too big and you know that just give me like 30 seconds and I'll have that thing in there, it'd be no problem. Well, immediately she just appears and I know where the flight attendant, sir, your bag won't fit. I'm like, it'll fit, I promise. She said, no, sir, you need to check it and it'll be waiting for you at your destination. I'm like, no, it won't. I've done this before, you're going to take this bag and I'm not going to see it for three weeks. And she's like, oh, no, no, I promise, I promise it'll get there. And I'm like, I promise you it won't. And we had this whole thing and eventually, you know, I yielded and so she took my bag and sure enough, we landed in Raleigh and I go to the belt and I wait that dreaded 25 minutes until there's nothing left coming out. And I was, y'all, I don't get mad like that. I was furious because I mean, literally we had this conversation and I was like, this is exactly what's going to happen. And so I go over there and I walk into this office, you know, the lost package office, and I'm just ready. I'm ready to just do something.

I just need something. And I walk in and there's a guy sitting there just behind the desk and he's about to become the object of my wrath because he's got a Delta on his thing. And I was like, yep, Delta, you know, it stands for don't expect your luggage to arrive. They lost my bag. And this guy goes, he looks at me, he goes, oh man, I hate it when they do that. Are you kidding?

What kind of incompetence are we doing? And just started to go off. And I was like, all of a sudden I was like, I feel better.

Like, you know, I didn't dig him. I still get my luggage for a long time, but he was, because I felt like he understands that I'm angry and he feels angry now. I'm like, I don't have to be angry anymore. And then on the way home, I was like, I bet you that's what my wife really wants from me. She's angry for me just to be like, yeah. And to feel that, to mirror that back to her, right? Sometimes I'll go by the way in Raleigh Airport.

I'll go by, I won't buy that office. I'll look at there and I'm like, my man right there, right? That guy takes care of me. Thanks for listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. We'll get back to today's teaching in a moment, but I wanted to make sure that you knew that today is your final day to get a hold of a very special premium resource that we've been offering to our financial supporters and gospel partners this month. It's a book titled One Day at a Time, a 60-day challenge to see, serve, and celebrate the people around you by a good friend of J.D.

Greer Ministries, Kyle Eidelman, pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. In the gospels, Jesus boiled all of the commandments down to just two things, love God and love people. One Day at a Time is a 60-day devotional that'll help you get better at doing both of those things. Each daily devotional includes questions for reflection, as well as a challenge to help you love the people God has placed around you. Ready to truly embrace those in your life with the love of Christ?

Why not take that challenge? We'll send you a copy with your gift of $35 or more to this ministry today. To give, call us at 866-335-5220 or visit us online at jdgreer.com. Once again, today is your last chance to get this resource, so don't delay. Call us right now. Now let's get back to the final moments of our series today. Once again, here's Pastor J.D.

One last one here. Don't give premature advice. Because first, when you give premature advice, you're probably going to misread the situation. Secondly, a lot of times what the person's looking for, as I said, is a companion in their pain, not a solution to the problem. Again, both genders this is going to apply to, but especially you men. Do not interrupt her and explain away her pain with Aristotelian logic.

You know, sweetie, A equals B and B equals C. Ergo, A equals C. Ergo, it's kind of illogical that you're actually heard about this. When you do that, and I'm not saying I've never done it. I'm not saying I don't do that all the time, but when you do that, I can promise you that your wife will not go, huh, thank you. You know, I am so stupid sometimes. I could have sworn that I was hurt and offended, but now with the clear force of your logic, I see that I am not, right? I'm not hurt after all. I'm so thankful you're my husband, right?

Said no woman ever. The majority of communication problems around expression problems are listening problems and listening like servants. Number four, Christ-like confrontation owns its part of the problem. When you do become aware that you were wrong, even in how your idolatries contributed to the problem, apologize for those without qualification. And what I mean by without qualification is any apology that goes, I'm sorry, but has ceased to be an apology, okay? But makes it no apology. Real apologies do not go from I'm sorry, but they go from I'm sorry to how can I make this better? And do not say you're the one who made me do this because that's not true. The other person is guilty of their sin and they're going to answer to God for it, but you're in charge of your own reaction.

By the way, this is one of the reasons you need outside counsel in your life because other people can help you see your own sin when your own emotions have clouded your vision. When your own emotions are engaged, you will always see yourself as 100% in the right and never at fault. Veronica and I both have poured out our frustration with the other person to a friend and had a friend look back and say, that's ridiculous.

You're an idiot. Let that go. Number five, when at fault, Christ-like confrontation practices the three A's admit, apologize, and ask for forgiveness. The key in these, right, is be specific. If you're going to admit something, tell them exactly what you're sorry for. Don't just say, sorry, right? If you can't be specific, then you don't understand yet what you did enough to change and so your apology is insincere.

So keep asking questions. Apologize, once again, be specific. I'm sorry for that. And then ask for forgiveness. That's something people often skip, but what that does, that puts you in a posture of humility.

I need something from you. I need you to forgive me. And that posture of humility will do more to diffuse conflict than just about anything else. So actually ask for forgiveness. Number six, Christ-like confrontation is quick to forgive.

In conflict, you demonstrate what you believe about the gospel. You don't understand the core experience of Christianity is being so overwhelmed by how gracious God has been to you that suddenly you begin to see that you've sinned against God in ways that are far worse than anyone has sinned against you. And the forgiveness that God has given to you is so overwhelming that you gladly and easily forgive others. When you refuse to forgive your spouse, his or her sins, when you're impatient with them because of their flaws, you are saying in effect that their sin against you is worse than your sin against God.

Is that really what you believe? Furthermore, God's forgiveness is supposed to seem like such an incredible treasure that every other infraction in your life just kind of seems rather trivial compared to it. How much people's grievances against you really bother you show you how little you're in rapture by the gospel. For many of you, the one thing you most need, you need the cross to get bigger in your life. Because when the cross gets bigger, then other people's infractions get smaller. And when other people's infractions bother you, it's because you've just lost touch.

John Wesley had this great story. He said, discovering the gospel is like learning about a rich uncle you didn't know you had, who you learned left you $100 million. And you've got to go to the bank and pick it up. And you're driving your old beat up car, or in his case, wagon. You're driving your car to the bank to collect $100 million. And about a quarter mile from the bank, your car breaks down.

What do you do? Do you get out and you kick the tires of the car? And I hate this stupid car. And God, why do you hate me?

No, I mean, you're about to get $100 million. Who cares about this piece of junk car? He said, when you are really bothered by these kinds of things that happen in life, it just shows that you've forgotten the inheritance that God has given you in the gospel. And because you've lost touch with that, these other things bother you. This broken down car bothers you because you have just forgotten what a treasure God's given you in the gospel.

You see what I'm getting at there? See, the cross for many of you needs to get bigger in your life. And the reason that other people's infractions are so grievous to use because it's small, right? Number seven, Christ-like confrontation is wise and patient in the timing of confrontation. Proverbs 12 18, there's one whose rash words are like sword thrust, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Rash words could mean words spoken in anger or not well thought out words, but it could also mean words not given at the right time. Proverbs 25 11, look at this, like apples of gold and settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.

I don't know what apples of gold and settings of silver is, but it sounds nice. And what he's saying is when you know how to think about your words, you're going to be sensitive to timing and it's going to be a blessing. Veronica and I just really practically, we found it helpful. Sometimes just a punt conversation until different times of the day, when we're tired, we're in a bad mood, when it's late, that's not a good time for constructive confrontation. We will often practice what we call the 24 hour rule, which is let's not talk about this now, but I promise to come back to this later.

Now, by the way, you need to keep your word if you're going to do that, otherwise you'll lose credibility. And some of you are like, what about the verse don't let the sun go down in your wrath? Shouldn't you deal with it before you go to bed and not let the sun go down in your wrath? Doesn't that mean we got to deal with the rain before we go to bed? No, it doesn't mean that, right?

It can't mean literally before the sun goes down, because that would mean some people in Sweden could nurse their grievances for three months in the summer before dealing with it, because that's, you know, the sun doesn't go down for three months. The main point of that verse is that we need to deal with our wrath and vengeance and get it out of our hearts. And sometimes a little help, a little space, a little time can help us separate unrighteous selfless irritation from righteous loving anger. By the way, wait until you can do it face to face.

Can I just state the obvious, but we live in this generation where we need to hear this. Never email, text, or Snapchat a conflict. I know many people whose lives, relationships, and ministries have been ruined by indiscriminate emails. I saw this Harvard study that said in emotional conversations, listen to this, 7% of what you communicate is related to the content of your words. 38% is communicated through facial expression and 55% through body language. When you are in an emotional conflict with somebody and you are texting or you are emailing, you're only communicating with 7%, right? And that's why all these things go wrong. You got to wait until it's a person to person thing.

Number eight, last one, Christlike confrontation brims with gospel hope. Let's tell you from why I'm not a marriage counselor, but for many people, you see the conflict spiral downward because there's this overtone of despair. This relationship is never going to work.

You're too broken, or maybe I'm too broken. But friend, you understand through the cross, I know that Jesus can cleanse and heal every sin and through the resurrection, he can restore anything that's been broken. That hope by the way, has gotten Veronica and I through some tough times because we know that God appointed us to be together and we know that when he appointed us to be in a relationship, he's going to give us the grace that we need to accomplish what he's assigned us to.

That one factor would change so many of your conflicts. If you just had gospel hope and it would strengthen you, it comes from knowing that God has a plan for your marriage, even the difficult parts of it, and that he died and resurrected to make a good marriage possible. If having a good marriage were possible in your own strength, Jesus would not have had to die. Maybe some of your marriages are on the ropes just so God can teach you that, that you haven't really turned to him and said, God, through the power of the cross and the resurrection, we need you to repair this. Because Jesus died and rose from the dead, anything is possible.

Nothing is too far gone. Like Hebrews says, he's able to save to the outermost so those who come to God through him. That means he can save your messed up marriage if you both give him a chance.

Listen, before you give up on marriage, give the power of grace a chance. And there you have it, the conclusion to our important series on relationships titled Forever Family. You're listening to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of Pastor JD Greer. In case you missed it earlier in the show, today is your last chance to get a hold of our latest featured resource that takes our love and devotion to Jesus to the next level. Right now, we're sending all of our financial supporters and gospel partners a copy of Pastor Kyle Eidelman's new resource called One Day at a Time, a 60-day challenge to see, serve, and celebrate the people around you. You can receive your copy today with a gift to this ministry. Give us a call at 866-335-5220 or give online at jdgreer.com. Again, it's your last chance to get your copy of this devotional, so don't wait. While you're on the website, you can also sign up for our email list to get ministry updates, information about new resources, and Pastor JD's latest blog posts delivered straight to your inbox.

Sign up when you go to jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch inviting you to join us tomorrow as we dive into the Old Testament prophets for a new teaching series titled Come Back to Me. We'll see you Friday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-29 12:33:14 / 2024-02-29 12:44:56 / 12

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