How to Solve Problems in Your Relationships [Podcast #17]

This podcast episode is the third and final part of the session I taught at the North Carolinians for Home Education Conference, "How to Stop the Fighting in Your Home." You can view the prezi for this session here.

It is a brief explanation of the 9 Steps for Conflict Resolution I have already blogged about in several posts that starts here, or I have consolidated into one article.

Teach your children biblical conflict resolution. 

  • Give space (James 1:19).
  • Check yourself  (Matt 7:3-5).
  • Let go of anger (Eph 4:26-27; Matt 18:21-35).
  • Love (Mark 12:30; Gal 5:14).
  • Pray (Matt 5:44; James 1:5-8).
  • Talk about it (Prov 18:13;15:1).
  • Discern the issue (Rom 14:1-12).
  • Speak the truth (Matt 18:15; Eph 4:15; Gal 6:1).
  • Give space

The Secret to Powerful Prayer [Podcast #2]

Sometimes prayer seems mysterious. When will God answer our prayers? What do we make of his promises to answer prayer (John 14:13-14; 15:7-11)? How can we learn to pray his will? If it is his will, why do we have to pray it?

Episode 2 of the Truth to Freedom Podcast is a recording of my teaching at Highland Christian Fellowship on Eph 6:19-20; Col 4:3-4. In these verses, Paul gives his prayer request to the Ephesians, a prayer for communicating the gospel. Not only do we learn what to pray, but we have the opportunity to dig into these challenging questions about prayer.

1. If we ask him, God will provide opportunities to communicate the gospel (Col 4:3).

2. If we ask him, God will help us to communicate the gospel with boldness (Eph 6:19-20).

3. If we ask him, God will help us to know what to say when we communicate the gospel (Eph 6:19; Col 4:4).

Saying Hard Things to People You Love

“I just want her to be happy.” This was what one father said when my friend asked if he could marry his daughter. Our culture believes that loving others means making them happy.

Transient

Is being happy really what it’s all about? If I were to always do what my children thought would make them happy, would that be good for them? We cannot trust “happiness” as the standard for what is best or right. That is why we sometimes have to say hard things to people we love. Telling someone the truth is often necessary for his or her good. And that is love.

So far, here are the 9 Steps for Conflict resolution: 1) Give Space. 2) Check yourself. 3) Let Go of Anger. 4) Love. 5) Pray. 6) Talk and 7) Discern the Issue. 

By going through these steps, you may discover that many of your problems are not legitimate issues. However, if we make it to this point, then it is necessary to take step 8.

8.     Speak the truth 

Jesus has given us the responsibility of going to our brother in the Lord and confronting him for his sin (Matt 18:15). This is for their good, so they can repent and avoid the harm that comes from sin (James 1:15). How we handle this is important. Paul explains that we are to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15) and “restore him in a spirit of gentleness” (Gal 6:1).

There is much more to discuss here. What if they won’t listen? What about the other steps in Matt 18? How long should this process take? For now the point is to accept the responsibility and have the courage to take this important step to lovingly and gently speak the truth. 

9.     Give space

Now we are back to the first step. Once you have spoken truth to them, give them time to process it. Unless you sense they are ready to immediately repent, you might want to end the conversation with this question, “Will you please pray about and consider what I have said?” 

How long does it take to go through all these steps?

Of course, there is no set amount of time these steps will require. You must walk through this depending on the Lord for wisdom and leadership. You should be willing for it to take much longer than you want it to. At the same time, do not assume that it must take a long time since there are so many steps. Many of these steps are basic issues of Christian maturity. It is possible that you have incorporated these behaviors into your everyday living and that you are able to process a conflict almost immediately. 

Questions for feedback: Which steps do you find most difficult? Which do you think are most important? Do you have any questions?

How to Avoid Dead End Conversations: 9 Steps for Conflict Resolution

I have had way too many conversations that went absolutely NOWHERE! That is especially discouraging when I am trying to discuss what I feel to be an important topic. In the next two steps in the 9 Steps for Conflict Resolution, I hope to point out some conversation strategies that will you help you avoid those dead end conversations.

6.     Talk

At this point in the 9 Steps, I finally get to do what I’ve been chomping at the bit to do since the problem first began: talk. Hopefully taking the other steps first  (which you can read about here: 1, 2 & 3, 4 & 5) has prevented me from making some major mistakes. If I have made it this far in the process, and still believe that there is a legitimate issue that needs to be resolved, then it is time to talk. But how I approach this is critical.

Transient

First, ask questions. I should not come into the conversation with guns a’ blazing, firing off my accusations. Here is a wise saying,

 

“If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame.”
(Prov 18:13)

 

Bring up the topic by asking for more information about what happened, how the other person feels about it, or what motivated the situation. Listen to what they say.

 

Second, be gentle and kind. Even if we are asking questions, we are probably poking into a sensitive area. Another wise word,

 

“A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
(Prov 15:1)

 

This open and gentle approach often gives the other person space to fess up to their own mistakes without having to confront them.

 

7.     Discern

 

       Now that you have more information, the next task in the conversation is to discern what kind of issue you are facing. I will suggest two basic categories:

        a)  those of a secondary nature, involving personal conviction or preference
b)  those involving violation of central biblical principles

 

Paul warns the Romans “not to quarrel over opinions” (14:1). On these secondary issues, “each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (14:5). “Each of us will give an account of himself to God” (14:12).

 

Not that I can’t discuss questions of opinion or the best way to get something done. But I will do so with humility and patience. And ultimately, I will be willing to let it go and let the other person live according to his or her own conviction.

 There are some issues, though, that we cannot ignore. If so, we must move to the next step, which I will explain in the next post.

 Do you have any other suggestions for avoiding dead end conversations?

Next Step: Saying Hard Things to People You Love

Steps 4 and 5: 9 Steps for Conflict Resolution

Want to know how to have 100% of all your fights vanish into thin air?

Want to know how to remove 80% of all of your conflicts from existence?

Of course you do. So you are going to keep reading about the 9 Steps for Conflict Resolution. You may have already missed the first three steps. You can read about how to Give Space here and how to Check Yourself and Let Go of Anger here

So, on to the next step.

4.     Love 

When something goes wrong, our natural response is to withdrawal. This is usually an attempt to protect ourselves or to influence the other person by expressing our disapproval of them. This is not love. Love is what is best for someone else, even when it costs me. Love does not choose its course of action based on personal hurt and loss (Christ is our example).

Transient

Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” Even when we are hurt and our relationships are broken, we can love. The entire purpose of your life and all the commandment of God are fulfilled in this one act of obedience (Mark 12:30; Gal 5:14). 

Love (along with the other steps) is why 100% of your fights will cease. Love is patient and kind . . . (1 Cor 13:4-7). And if 80% of our conflicts are because we focused on ourselves, then love destroys them. We stop focusing on what we need and want and focus on others.

Here is the challenge: go do something to express your love for the person you are in conflict with. Do it before things are resolved. Do it today. This will solidify your forgiveness toward them and will strengthen your relational foundation so you can deal with difficult subjects at the right time.

5.     Pray

Do we really think we will be able change others? What do they need? Who can change them?

Jesus can. 

So talk to him about the situation. Pray for the work of the Spirit to convict them if you believe they are wrong about something. Pray about how and when to bring up the matter with them. Allow God to lead you in handling the situation. He might tell you to let him handle this one and be patient.

Next Part: How to Avoid Dead End Conversations: 9 Steps for Conflict Resolution

Steps 2 and 3: 9 Steps for Conflict Resolution

Got conflict?

The first step for conflict resolution is Give Space. You can read about this in the first post of this series.

The second step provides another great reason we should not dive right into correcting others.

2.  Check yourself

Jesus warned, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” (Matt 7:3-5) 

Transient

Go ahead and say this out loud to yourself: “I might be wrong.” Some of us really need to add this possibility to our thinking process. When I am in conflict and I choose to give space and check myself, I find that often the main problem is actually me! I get alone with God and ask him to convict me and help me understand the situation. He will.

It may be that there is still a legitimate issue in the other’s life. But this is a great opportunity to make sure that I have discerned, confessed, and requested forgiveness for any wrongdoing on my part. Getting things right from my end often clears up the waters for others to see their own issues. It also strengthens the relationship and clears the way to address those issues when the time is right.

Bottom line: do not “go to your brother” about their sin when there is unconfessed sin on your part in the relationship.

3. Let go of anger 

When we are hurt by others, or think that what they are doing is wrong, we often become angry. Trying to have a discussion when we are angry will rarely produce good results. Paul warns us not to allow anger to settle in our hearts (Eph 4:26-27).

Forgiveness takes place at two levels. One is the relational level, when we extend forgiveness to a repentant person and the relationship is restored. Another is the heart level. Even if someone does not repent, we must not be resentful or hold on to anger. We can forgive them in our hearts even if the relationship has not yet been restored. This heart level forgiveness is how we let go of anger. We can and must forgive because we have been forgiven (Matt 18:21-35). 

Bottom line: do not “to your brother” about their sin when there is anger and forgiveness in your heart toward them. This sin on your part is a direct obstacle to your relationship with God (Matt 6:14-15). 

Next Part: Steps 4 & 5: 9 Steps for Conflict Resolution

9 Steps for Conflict Resolution

Transient

Have you had a fight with someone you love this week? Unfortunately, most of us have. It is amazing how we can experience so much joy and so much frustration from one relationship! We can enjoy the fellowship and love and cooperation. But relationships are also difficult. We often do not agree. We hurt or are hurt by others. We act wrongly and this affects those around us. 

What should we do when we are hurt or believe those around us are doing the wrong thing? God tells us how to handle it in the Bible. When we follow his ways, we will be able to faithfully love and uphold truth and righteousness.

Here are nine steps you can take (and retake) when you face these difficulties in your relationships. 

1.     Give space

When Dana and I were first married, I asked my older brother Michael to give me marriage advice. He said, “One of the most important lessons I have learned in marriage is that I am not my wife’s Holy Spirit (and she isn’t mine).” 

We like to try to fix those around us. But that is not really our job. In fact, by trying to fix others, we can become an obstacle to their learning process. When I think someone is wrong, I am not going to try to take God’s place in his or her life.

There is another reason we should not dive right into a “discussion” when we disagree. Some of us tend to speak before we think. Anger and frustration make this even worse. James advises, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). 

So, the first thing I am going to do when I think someone else is wrong about something is nothing. With humility and patience, I am going to give the other person space to make mistakes and learn from them.

“But I can’t do nothing! This is too important!” Don’t forget, this is only the first step.

Next part: Steps 2 & 3: 9 Steps for Conflict Resolution

 

N. T. Wright on Fox News

N. T. Wright appears on Fox News discussing his new book, Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters. What is impressive to me about Dr. Wright's discussion is that he presents an intelligent and rational view of Christ without compromising the spiritual truth of his identity. Also, he is able to articulate who Christ is without the traditional, religious terminology that much of the world has already dismissed.

http://video.foxnews.com/v/1258887464001/?#sp=show-clips