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The Spiritual Discipline of Managing Conflict

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1 The Spiritual Discipline of Managing Conflict
Shan Caldwell

2 We were born to grow closer and closer to God our Creator.
“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” – 1 Peter 2:1-3 “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 3:18 “Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16

3 So how are you doing? Is your inner self being renewed by God day by day? Are you growing closer to God? Are you helping the Church be built up to effectively carry out the work of Jesus Christ? I believe that most Christians are not growing spiritually as we should and therefore both the local and global church is not growing as it should. The result is that the church is failing to make the impact on our society that God intended.

4 Spiritual Discipline "A spiritual discipline is, when practiced faithfully and regularly, a habit or regular pattern in your life that repeatedly brings you back to God and opens you up to what God is saying to you." – author unknown “Spiritual disciplines, then, are spiritual exercises that one engages in habitually which bring one closer to God and thus become more godly in character and behavior.” – Robert Longman

5 Spiritual Disciplines:
Prayer • Ministry Confession • Giving Bible Study • Writing Inspirational Reading • Journaling Meditation • Hospitality Assembling Together • Teaching Fasting • Solitude/Listening Singing • Scripture Memorization Managing Conflict in a way that brings God glory *

6 Is there such a thing as good conflict?
Many differences aren’t about right and wrong; they are simply the result of personal preferences. If we handle disagreements well, they stimulate dialogue, creativity, and positive change. (see Acts 15:36-41 concerning a disagreement between Paul & Barnabas) Our churches would be far healthier if they were having more good conflicts.

7 God’s Mandate of Reconciliation
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” – Romans 12:18 “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” – Philippians 2:1-2 “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” – 1 Peter 2:17

8 “A new command I give you: Love one another
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35 “Worldly love is only an emotion, and when the emotion is gone the relationship is over. That kind of love seeks only to get and not to give. Biblical love is not like that. It’s not an emotion; it is an act of sacrificial service. It’s not an attitude; it’s an action. Love always does something. The words used to describe love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 are all verbs. Love is an act of service that flows from a heart of humility.” – John MacArthur, The Master’s Plan for the Church

9 “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” – 1 Corinthians 1:10

10 Belivers in Jesus demonstrate their obedience to
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31 Belivers in Jesus demonstrate their obedience to Jesus through submission. “In every conflict, [God] has given you an opportunity to exalt him. He wants you to behave so differently that people take notice and are impressed. It’s an opportunity to grow in Christ-likeness. If we embrace conflict as a primary means of sancitification—it’s not something we go looking for, but when it comes—we slow down and say, ‘Lord, if nothing else in this situation, refine me’.” – Sande, Schlaepfer, Yperen, Keeping Conflict Healthy

11 In order to submit fully to God in conflict and grow in our relationship with Him, we must focus on the first of the four “G’s” of Biblical Peacemaking: Glorify God – How can I honor God in this situation? Get the log out of your eye. – How can I own my part of this conflict. Gently Restore – How can I help others own their contribution to this clash? Go and be Reconciled – How can I pass along God’s forgiveness and help reach a reasonable solution?

12 You can choose to Glorify God
You can choose to Glorify God. Glory is a biblical word for the essence of God. To “glorify God” means that you bring attention to, display, and reveal his perfection. You point with your own life to the enormity of his wisdom, power and compassion.

13 If conflict is inevitable, what if you looked at conflict with a radically different, and godly, perspective? What if you thought of it as an opportunity to demonstrate respect for God, grow closer to Him, and win benefits for everyone involved?

14 Human beings deal with conflict in three ways. You can:
Fake peace. You escape, making things look good by pasting on a smile and shrugging that you’re okay. Break peace. You attack, tearing up relationships to get what you want. Make peace. You work it out, aiming to resolve clashes by searching out solutions that create real justice and authentic harmony.


16 Peacefaking in the Bible
Denial. 1 Samuel 2:22-25 tells of Eli ignoring his sons’ horrible behavior. Blaming. Adam and Eve try to dodge responsibility in Genesis 3:12-13. Flight. Genesis 16:6-8 to see how Hagar ran from her conflict with Sarai. Suicide. In 1 Samuel 31:4 the wounded king Saul kills himself to escape capture by his enemies.


18 Peacebreaking in the Bible
Insults. In Nehemiah 4:1-3 we read how Sanballat and Tobiah insult those who are rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Gossip. “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.” – Proverbs 16:28 Fighting. In John 18:10, Simon Peter reacts in a violent manner to the arrest of Jesus. Murder. In Acts 6:8-15, a group of religious rulers silence Stephen, an early church leader, by stoning him to death.


20 Peacemaking responses
Overlook an offense. Disputes so insignificant that they should be resolved by quietly and deliberately overlooking it. (Prov. 19:11, Col. 3:13, 1 Peter 4:8). Reconciliation. Dispute is too serious to overlook so we are reconciled through confession, loving correction, and forgiveness (Matt. 5:23-24, Prov. 28:13, Gal. 6:1). Negotiation. A cooperative bargaining process in which you and the other person seek to reach a settlement that satisfies the legitimate needs of each side (Phil. 2:4). Mediation. If two cannot reach agreement they should ask one or more objective people to meet them and help them communicate better and explore solutions (Matt. 18:16). Arbitration. When you and an opponent cannot come to a voluntary agreement on a material issue, you may appoint one or more arbitrators to listen to the arguments and render a binding decision (1 Cor. 6:1-8). Accountability. Church leaders must formally intervene to hold him or her accountable to Scripture and to promote repentance, justice, and forgiveness (Matt. 18:17).

21 Six ways to give God glory in conflict:
1. Trust God. Ask God to give you grace to depend on him and follow his ways, even if they are completely opposite to what you feel like doing. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.” – Proverbs 3:5-7 See also Acts 16:22-31.

22 2. You can obey God. Obeying God’s commands without compromise honors him by showing that his ways are absolutely good, wise, and dependable. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” - John 15:8 “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16 See also John 17:4 and Philippians 1:9-10.

23 3. You can imitate God. When the believers in Ephesus were struggling with conflict, Paul gave them this timeless advice: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” – Ephesians 5:1-2 See also 1 John 2:6 and Ephesians 4:1-3.

24 4. You can acknowledge God
4. You can acknowledge God. As God gives you grace to respond to conflict in unusual and effective ways, other people will often take notice and wonder how you do it. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” - Philippians 2:13 “But if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” - 1 Peter 3:14-16 See also Matthew 22:37 and John 21:19.

25 5. Serve others. As Paul reminded the Corinthians, conflict provides an opportunity to serve others.
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” - Luke 6:27-28 “Do nothing our of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” - Philippians 2:3-4 See also Galatians 6:2, 9-10 and Romans 12:20.

26 6. Grow to be more and more like Jesus Christ
6. Grow to be more and more like Jesus Christ. God’s highest purpose for you is not to make you comfortable, wealthy, or happy. If you have put your faith in him, he has something far more wonderful in mind—he plans to conform you to the likeness of his Son! Conflict is one of the many tools that God will use to help you develop a more Christ-like character. As Paul urged in his letter to the Corinthians, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1

27 Glorifying God brings him praise and honor by showing who he is, what he is like, and what he is doing in you. And glorifying God benefits you as well, especially in a conflict.

28 The Prayer of Jesus from John 17:20-23
“My prayer is not for [my disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

29 Three questions for prayer, thought:
Where are you seeing conflict in your life right now? What part does selfishness (your own) play in that dispute? Do you trust God enough to follow him wherever he leads you, even if the path looks difficult? How can you bring glory to God through your life right now in a conflict or potential conflict situation? Questions?


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