Tactics for Handling Conflict

September 30, 2014

Dr. Nick Stinnett spent twenty-five years studying successful families. Yes, every family has conflicts even successful ones, but successful families develop strategies for dealing with conflict. Here are some tactics to use in developing your own successful family’s conflict resolution skills.

Tactic #1 – Deal with Conflicts Quickly.

  • “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…” Ephesians 4:26
  • “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Ephesians 4:31
  • As a practical matter, you may have to schedule a time for a discussion.

Tactic #2 – Deal with One Issue at a Time.

  • 68% of both husbands and wives say that disagreements are seldom resolved.
  • Blaming and bringing up other issues will cloud the situation.

Tactic #3 – Be Specific.

  • The real issue in an argument can be elusive.
  • State the offending action or situation, your feelings, and possibly impact.

Tactic #4 – Become Allies.

  • Attack the problem not each other.
  • One strong family member states it this way: “It would be silly to get caught up in personal attacks when we fight. All that does is hurt feelings and fan the fires. We try to see ourselves as being on the same side–as a team. The enemy is the problem. We fight it—not each other.” Stinnett & Beam, Fantastic Families, p. 92

Tactic #5 – Ban the Bombs.

  • “I know more about my husband and children than anyone else does. I know their fears, their vulnerabilities. I have power to hurt them. … I feel that it would be a serious violation of the trust we have in each other to use our knowledge, or closeness, as weapons. Even when I get very angry, I keep sight of that. To use sensitive areas as attack points is a good way to destroy a marriage or parent-child relationship.” Fantastic Families, p. 92-93
  • Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Eph 4:29 NIV
  • Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Eph. 4:32, NIV

Tactic #6 – Open Up Understanding.

  • Be an active listener.
  • Check out and confirm what is being said. This involves repeating back for evaluation what you think the other person has said.
  • Many arguments are solved simply by coming to an understanding.

An Interconnected World

September 12, 2014

A 1967 Psychology Today article first proposed the idea of six degrees of separation. In his experiment, Stanley Milgrim asked volunteers from Nebraska and Kansas to pass a package to two people in Massachusetts by passing the package to a social acquaintance that they believed were “closer” to the target. The participants received the name and a vague clue as to where the target person lived. Milgrim found that the packages arrived by passing through the hands of just five other people. Thus the term six degrees of separation—we are separated from anyone in the United States by just six people.

A study published in Science also demonstrated this connectedness. The study enlisted 61,000 participants in 166 countries for the experiment. The participants were to pass a message to one of 18 people. They were to use the Internet by contacting a social acquaintance of theirs that they thought might be “closer” to the target person. On average, it took about five to seven intermediate steps to reach the target. This phenomenon was dubbed the small world effect.

A study by Microsoft analyzed 30 billion instant messages sent by 240 million people in June of 2006. The study found that 6.6 steps linked these people, and a study done of Facebook found people there linked by only three degrees of separation.

God has given us the staggering task of taking the gospel to the whole world (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15). With a world population over seven billion it may seem overwhelming. The task challenges our faith.

God is wiser than we are. He knows that it is a smaller world than we might first think. Maybe if we with faith reach out to the people we know, and they in turn reach out to the people they know… Maybe everyone could hear the gospel if we live by faith. It’s an interconnected world.

To Be a Living Sacrifice

September 5, 2014

Does Jesus make a difference to the way you live your life? Paul makes an appeal. It is a strong exhortation with the authority of the Apostle Paul behind it (see Romans 12:1). The appeal is motivated by the mercies of God which Paul has explained in the first eleven chapters of Romans. Because of the difference that Jesus makes, Paul says that it should change the way we live.

Paul wants us to present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice. Paul has already said earlier in the letter that we are to present ourselves to God (6:13). The emphasis on bodies may remind us that we are not to let sin reign in our mortal body (6:12), and that we are to put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit (8:13). It is with our bodies that we serve. It is a living sacrifice as opposed to a dead sacrifice like the animals killed and placed on the altar under the Law of Moses. It is a thank offering. I do not add to the work of Christ. My service is the joyful response to what has been done for me. It is to be a holy sacrifice. We are set apart for God, and we are to be holy, walking not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (see 8:4). It is well pleasing to God when we live this kind of life.

Presenting our bodies to God is then called by Paul your “reasonable service” or “spiritual worship” depending on translations. Let’s tackle the service/worship word first. It is latreia in Greek (G2999). This is the normal word for service done within the temple, which explains worship as the other translation. For Paul, Christians are priests and the people of God, the temple. Paul has smashed any secular versus sacred distinction that we might create. What I do in everyday life, I do as if service to God. Or as Paul did say, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23, ESV). I don’t get to bracket off a portion of my life and say this part is mine, God, you can’t have it.

But what kind of service is Paul talking about? The Greek word is logikos (G3050). A classical Greek lexicon would define this word as “possessed of reason.” The standard Greek New Testament lexicon (BDAG) suggests “pert[aining]. to being carefully thought through, thoughtful.” It is translated as “reasonable” (KJV, NKJV, NET) and “spiritual” (ESV, NASB, NIV84). It is the kind of service that reason gives. And possibly, the most helpful suggestion is to say that it is the opposite of the “futile thinking” and “debased mind” found in Romans 1:18-32.

If it sinks in what Jesus has done for me, then it makes sense to be a living sacrifice! But someone has quipped, “The problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps trying to crawl off the altar.” Paul wants us to have renewed minds. He does not want us squeezed into the world’s mold. When we get it right, we dedicate ourselves to be a living sacrifice.