I have three wonderful teenage children, very intelligent & sometimes opinionated. And it’s not uncommon to have some very interesting & heated discussions at dinner time about all kinds of topics including politics, musical taste, movie preferences, Hollywood, current events, government policies, theological questions, historical events, recipes & a plethora of random topics. In addition to our wonderful kids, my husband & I have our own perspectives & opinions. So our dinner conversations can be both diverse & intense.
As I think about these conversations, it’s important to consider not only what is being said, but also the tone & context for these interactions. If we are going to maintain close relationships, disagreements are inevitable. Here are some helpful thoughts related to disagreements:
Seek to understand more than being understood
A sincere apology is helpful when there’s misunderstanding
If you’re trying to “win” an argument, appreciate that someone will lose & maybe that’s not a good goal
Respect is essential for constructive disagreement
I’m deeply in love with Jesus, full stop. There are times, however, that I’m not so whippy on some of the things Jesus says & does. This used to rankle me, until I started thinking about Peter. One day in my prayer time, the Holy Spirit walked me through the various times & ways that Peter disagreed with Jesus:
At the very beginning when he told Jesus to leave him because he was a sinful man (Luke 5:8, after Jesus used Peter’s boat to preach a sermon to a crowd along the lakeshore).
A little later, even though Peter walked on the water to Jesus in Matt 14:30-31, Jesus reprimanded Peter for his doubt from watching the winds & waves & sinking into the water.
In Matt 16:22, Peter rebukes Jesus for talking about His upcoming death. This seems pretty audacious to me, considering that Peter had just declared that Jesus was the Christ / Messiah.
Peter again argues with Jesus on the whole betrayal thing at the last supper in Matt 26:33-35.
Peter disagrees with God with the heavenly vision in Acts 10:11-19 about eating unclean animals & preaching Jesus to the Gentiles.
Seems to me that it doesn’t make Jesus bite His nails when we disagree with Him, but let’s be abundantly clear that no matter what our opinion may be, Jesus has the final say, full stop. So let’s keep loving Jesus, even when we disagree with Him, from time to time 🙂
For whatever reason, this week has had an over abundance of conflict & almost none of it with low intensity, it’s all been high grade volatile & even borderline destructive. So today is a good day to take a deep breath & look for some sunshine. In the meantime, here are a few take aways I’ve acquired from this week in dealing with conflict, constructively (operative word):
*being reactive can often make things worse
*listen to understand rather than argue
*disagree but don’t disrespect
*appreciate that the other persons / side has some valuable points of view
*seek common ground rather than retreating into hostility, aggression or worse apathy, isolation & passivity
What has helped you manage conflict constructively? Please share so we can all get better with your wisdom 🙂
I’ve been noticing some things w my kids that are somewhat eye opening. When I ask them to do something, like the pick up the things they were playing with or clean their rooms, etc, they can sometimes tend to have 1 of 2 reactions: complain or argue. Both of these reactions are becoming very annoying & probably reflect some bad parenting shortcomings on my part. With that being said, the whole complain or argue strategy has started me thinking about how I react to God’s directives in my life.
There are times that I know that God is asking me to do something & I have some “creative answers” that include: I don’t have time, I don’t want to do that, why do I have to do this? that’s a really big sacrifice, I’m not smart enough to do that, I’m too busy doing the other things You told me to do, . . . . .
Some of the ways that my kids respond to me have really started me thinking about how I respond to my heavenly Father. I always want my kids to respond with respect, honor, hard work, no complaining or arguing, etc. I think my heavenly Father would like me to treat His requests in the same way – what great opportunities to grow! 🙂