Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sanctification Saturday - Communication and Conflict

I’m very excited about our upcoming Sanctification Saturday this week.  I am convinced that the majority of the problems that we have in our relationships, whether they be relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, employers and employees, or any relationship within the church, are related to ungodly patterns of communication.  Another thing is certain, in my opinion – most of us don’t think we have communication problems.  We think we just have difficult people all around us.

Well, I’d like to take a minute here to prompt us all to get out the mirror and take a look at ourselves regarding the way we communicate.  We all have room to improve in how we deal with the people in our lives and how we handle conflict.  James 3:2 tells us, For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.  Only perfect people can say they do not stumble in their communication.  I’m going to guess that rules all of us out.  So let me give you a few questions to consider. 

Are you clairvoyant? 

Many of us act as if we are.  Clairvoyance is the ability to gain information from a person without using normal human senses.  In other words, a clairvoyant is a mind-reader.  You might think, “That’s absurd.  Of course, I’m not a mind reader.”  Let me rephrase the question then.  Do you assume you know the motives of the people around you?  If someone says something that offends you, do you know what their intention was?  Do you intuitively discern why people do and say the things they do?
It doesn’t take much life experience to conclude that it is common for human beings to live as if they have intuitive knowledge of other people’s motives and intentions, and to act on that supposed knowledge.  Someone doesn’t talk to us at church and we think we know that that person is mad at us.  A wife says something that sounds curt to her husband and he thinks he knows why.  It is human nature to make assumptions.  If you do that, you will find this Saturday’s material helpful.

Do you clam up?

Some people handle conflict by not handling conflict.  When they get mad, they don’t say a word.  They just pretend that nothing is wrong.  When they are asked if something is wrong, some will even go so far as to deny it.  You can’t pry it out of them with a crow bar.  Is this a violation of Scripture?  Come and find out.

Do you blow up?

Some folks are the opposite of those who clam up – they blow up.  These people can’t help but speak their mind, sometimes forcefully, sometimes at full volume.  Many times they say things they don't mean, intending to hurt the other person just so that they can win the argument.  Afterward, they may realize that they overreacted, but in the heat of the moment they tend to go right back to the boiling point.  The Bible offers help and hope for the nuclear temperament.  We’ll talk about that Saturday. 

Are you a pretender?

A lot of people who blow up are also pretenders.  It’s an amazing combination.  They will start World War III, rant, yell, even throw things and slam doors…then act as if nothing ever happened.  It’s like they have relational amnesia.  On the other hand, sometimes pretenders are married to those who blow up.  Their spouse will lose his or her temper and the pretender will let it slide, never saying a word about it.  Pretenders tend to think, “its easier to just not talk about it.  It wouldn’t do any good anyway.”  Is there anything wrong with this mindset?  We’ll see this weekend.

We have all had times of difficulty in our marriages, in our relationships at work, and our relationships in the church.  We have all had conflicts where it seemed like there was no solution to be had.  What are we to do in those moments?  Are we to assume the thoughts and intentions of the other person?  Are we to clam up or blow up?  Are we to pretend that nothing is wrong?  The Bible gives us clear direction on how to handle even the most difficult of conflicts. 

It speaks volumes that in Ephesians, the first issue addressed in the applicational section of the book is the issue of communication and conflict resolution.  Before Paul deals with sexual purity, godly time management, submission to authority, or even being filled with the Spirit, he gives instruction on how to communicate with one another and how to solve relational problems.  That should tell us that this issue is of pivotal importance to godly living.

The truths that we will study this Saturday in Ephesians 4:25-32, if they are implemented faithfully, have the power to change the climate of your home in very short order.  Your problems will not dissolve in a moment, but the atmosphere can become one of peace, patience, and love very quickly by simply implementing the principles that God’s Word teaches.

Wherever you find people who are experiencing harmonious relationships, you will find people who are loving God and each other and communicating effectively.  Conversely, wherever you find people who are experiencing severe difficulties in their relationships, you will find people who are being selfish and not communicating effectively.  If it is our aim to please Him in all things, we should be willing to invest ourselves in learning how to communicate and deal with conflict God’s way.  That will be our objective this Saturday.
It’s not too late to sign up.  Just call the church or send us an email and we will put you on the list.  I hope to see you there!
Posted by Greg Birdwell

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