Monday, October 8, 2007

People Who Bug You

Last week’s theme: Abide
This week: Conquering Conflicts

Growing up in a family fraught with conflicts, there was no way around conflict except to battle through it. One-up-man-ship was considered a life skill.

How radically life changed when I learned the power of negotiation. Jesus brought the gift of negotiation to the Church. He didn’t blow his God whistle and say, “Okay, all Gentiles out of the pool!” He came making room for all to come to him.

But making room for the difficult person takes a measure of planning for that person in advance of the conflict. Whether encountering a slow check-out clerk or a whining office co-worker, knowing in advance that your expectations and other’s expectations are not always going to jive is the first step to preparation. Every person awakens with expectations. Problem solving comes in when we have to decide what ground we can and can’t give up. So first of all, we need the power and knowledge of God’s Word to temper us and the things we say. What we ingest on a Sunday morning is not going to float us through a week of navigating through the stream of humanity we all wade back into on Monday morning. We need to rise intent on allowing God’s Word to preach to our own soul, God’s tempering agent for making us “world ready” when we leave our drive-way. Being a “world-ready” believer is not arming yourself with Bible knowledge so you can waylay that unbelieving co-worker. It is allowing it to seep inside of you so that God’s transformative power in you is evident to them.

Next, we need the greatest gift of all--that of love. Loving the difficult person whether a person who is a slacker on the job or a believer that never seems to mature, modeling love is not only helpful, but God requires it of us. Remember that you are not responsible for people’s wrong choices. People will entangle themselves in a web of deceit but it isn’t our job to jump into the web and try and untangle them. Two tangled in a web is worse than one! Work alongside God by praying for them, trusting that as you take the high ground, God will work through them to finish them just as steadily as He’s worked to hone your faith. It is often when the person hits bottom that causes them to look up and see who they can find standing high on sure footing. People will be drawn over time to the life that remains on steady ground.

“Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, And the strength of salvation; The fear of the LORD is His treasure.” Is. 33:6