Time Out (by Jerry Schmoyer)
Even though we will do almost anything to avoid conflict, sometimes conflict arises no matter what we do. It may be a problem between parents, teens, or even the church leaders. Misunderstanding motives or poor communication skills are often behind these conflicts, but other times it’s just because of strong differences of opinion. Perhaps someone wants more control or authority then they should be granted, or someone else seems to enjoy causing trouble. No matter what the cause, conflict must be faced and resolved.
Prevention is better than correction, but we might not address the issue until it becomes large. Maybe we may feel it is not our duty or responsibility, and so we do nothing. However, when God shows us something that needs to be corrected it is our job to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We need to thoroughly articulate our response in our minds before doing or saying anything. We also need to pray about both the problem and the solution. God will provide wisdom and guidance. Then, when we act, we can often expect that others may not respond in a godly way, but we still need to do what is right to the best of our abilities, doing what Jesus would do if He were in our shoes. Afterward, we can learn from the experience and move on.
Remember, Jesus Himself faced conflict in His ministry, especially from within his own group of disciples. If He faced conflict, so can we! Don’t let the experience discourage you, distract you, defeat or depress you.
Romans 12:18-20, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.'”
Titus 3:9, “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”
Galatians 6:1-5, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.”
- What is your “style” of handling conflict? Do you avoid it, rush headlong in, seek compromise, or just ignore it? What should your personal conflict management style look like?
- Think of some conflicts you’ve had in the past. What did you learned from them? What might you have done differently?
- Are you facing any conflicts at the present? What would Jesus do? Who can you go to for advice? Have you been praying about it? What is your plan of action?
P.S. Download Tim’s Principles for Confrontation from his Free Youth Ministry Resources page.
Jerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 14 years, ever since I became one myself. He authors the weekly Time Out series here at Life in Student Ministry in hopes to spiritually refresh your soul as you continually pour so much of yourself into students. God bless!
Posted on April 13, 2008