A Note From Kelly King: Scripture warns against anger. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.” So, how do we live in a culture that thrives on conflict? How do we offer the opportunity to live in harmony? In today’s article, Deb Douglas gives us some helpful tips regarding confrontation.
Protests, angry posts, harsh judgmental attitudes, and friends falling out over the right parenting choices. It seems like everyone is mad at everyone and not afraid to share her anger with the world. It gets ugly fast and the ugliness impacts the church when people begin to spread rumors and take sides. The undercurrent of anger runs through the church and its ministries creating a messy environment. Unfortunately, when we attempt to mediate or confront this situation, things can get even messier, and we risk becoming the target for the anger. By not responding, it appears we approve. By acting, we face potential attack. What do we do?
There’s a lot that we can do in situations like this:
- Stay focused on what matters most.
- Love everyone. This is tough, especially when it means loving those who have attacked us. Forgiveness is an essential element of love. Forgive often and quickly!
- Differentiate between opinions and beliefs. Preferences and convictions. Understand that resolution may be each side recognizing the other is allowed to have a different perspective.
- Listen to both sides for understanding. The goal is for each side to understand the heart behind the opinion, belief, or conviction.
- Stick to biblical truth. Understand not everyone is going to be happy with the biblical truths, but that doesn’t change what the truth is.
- Accept that we are all created uniquely and have unique perspectives.
- Understand that only God can resolve some differences.
The current political scene in the USA has brought to surface fundamentally different worldviews. The passion behind the tempers stems from the heart. Attacks come across as daggers in the heart, putting us on guard and ripe for exploding into conflict. Often it is the tempers of differing views that create the conflict between two people that quickly becomes out of control and messy. Each party wishes to “convert” the other into her way of thinking. Things get heated. Hurtful words are spoken. Posts are made before second thoughts. Differences become huge chasms.
What do we do when we need to confront participants in a battle that is impacting the church? Here are some basic practical tips for confrontation:
- Be prayed up and ready. Take time to get spiritually and emotionally ready before confronting.
- Check your personal motivation before confronting.
- Deal with personal emotions before confronting. If angry, allow yourself time to cool down first. If you’re hurt, pray for healing.
- Think before confronting, but do not put it off too long.
- Consider if there is someone better equipped, prepared, or with more potential for effectiveness for the confrontation.
- If the confrontation impacts the church, inform the pastor of the situation.
- Not all confrontations will end well. We cannot force participants to forgive each other, heal their relationship, and move on. But we can continue to pray for resolution.
From eating styles to mothering philosophies, to beliefs about abortion, women’s rights, and immigration, conflict happens. The solution is to pray and confront the situation with a heart of love and a desire for a God-honoring resolution. The world is messy, but living in harmony is possible.
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.