Last night at Grace I shared the platform with our senior pastor Ray to talk a little about the subject. I confess I was a little underprepared and spoke rather too long, but Ray made some excellent points with particular reference to conflict within a any given church family. Take a listen here.
For my preparation I re-read John Ortberg's book, Everybody's normal until you get to know them, and Mark Green's, The best idea in the world, how putting relationships first transforms everything. In addition I read Resoving everyday conflict by Ken Sande. I would enthusisastically recommend all of these and thought a couple of comments about each might help.
1. John Ortbergs book, Everybody's normal until you get to know them. As with just about all his books, clearly written with great humour and use of Scripture. I was most taken by his image of the porcupine as metaphor of how we can damage one another with our barbs,
'Our barbs have names like rejection, condemnation, resentment,, arrogance, selfishness, envy, contempt. Some people hide them better than others, but get close enough, and you will find out they’re there……we learn to survive through withdrawal and attack…we hurt (or are hurt by) those we long to be closest to…we can usually think of a number of particularly prickly porcupines in our lives..but the problem is not just them. I’m somebody’s porcupine and so are you”'
Uncomfortable to realise that I might be the source of relationship problems...we tend to think it is always someone else. There is also great teaching on the need for mutual confession and a challenging chapter on "the gift no-one wants' -confrontation.
2. Mark Green's, The best idea in the world, how putting relationships first transforms everything. Brilliant, succinct and practical. Key insight-because God is a trinity in relationship, and we are made in his image, then we are made for relationships. And not just a relationship with our creator God, but with people allaround us. Looking at and adapting our work and family in 'relational' ways, could result in true flourishing (or shalom as Greene loves to call it). And on forgiveness,'Forgiveness does not mean sweeping the issue under the carpet but rather dealing with the mess together. When we don’t forgive we build a wall against love, and it is we who are trapped behind it.’
3. Resolving everyday conflict by Ken Sande. Super little book. Key insight, we are called to be peacemakers. Not just when we are directly affected but when we are aware of conflict and can legitimately play a part in bringing reconciliation. Hence Jesus' calling of the peacemakers 'blessed' and in other parts of the New Testament, urging 'if at possible be at peace with all people', or 'pursue peace. Peacemaking is not an optional extra. This is his commitment taken from his excellent website
'As people reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are called to respond to conflict in a way that is remarkably different from the way the world deals with conflict. We also believe that conflict provides opportunities to glorify God, serve other people, and grow to be like Christ. Therefore, in response to God's love and in reliance on his grace, we commit ourselves to respond to conflict according to the following principles: -
1. Glorify God
2. Get the log out of your eye
3. Gently restore
4. Go and be reconciledCheck out the website..http://www.peacemaker.net for the details and some other helpful resources.
All three books excellent and worthy of your time. Conflict matters and is painful. Forgiveness is crucial. Peacemaking is a priority. And all to God's glory