Archive for May, 2007

Conflict 2

May 31, 2007

“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” describes the fear (and avoidance of) conflict as “artificial harmony”

So the question is (page 92):

“But why is harmony a problem?

“It’s the lack of conflict that’s a problem. Harmony itself is good, I suppose, if it comes as a result of working through issues constantly and cycling through conflict. But if it comes only as a result of people holding back their opinions and honest concerns, then it’s a bad thing.”

Conflict is good when it is:

1. Loving. The bottom line for me is always: What is the most loving response? Sometimes the most loving response is to keep my opinions to myself, but more often than not, it is to prayerfully engage the ones I love with what is in my heart. Engaging in conflict as a servant – with a view of building others up – will facilitate growth. The problems arises in that conflict makes us feel bad, and then we either project that on the person we are having conflict with (they are bad), or we act badly ourselves.

2. Honest. In “Leadership and Self Deception”, they describe the cycle of failing to do what we know is right and then making everybody else the bad guy in our minds. When we withhold our viewpoint out of fear of conflict, we are not being loving to those around us. However, withholding our opinion is very different from waiting to voice our opinion for a better time or when we can think it through, pray it through, and voice it best. If what is going to come out of your mouth is pure emotion or gibberish, wait.

3. Respectful. This goes with my bottom line. If I engage others, I must do it lovingly and respectfully, knowing that they have full rights to humanity just like me. I can’t dehumanize them in my mind to make myself feel better. In the end, I may find that I was wrong. Always I will find that we have been changed.

At a leadership thing I went to a while back, Les Welk spoke about the importance of tension, and used one of those rubber band wind up planes to show how tension is a force that moves us forward. Conflict is tension, and when it is handled with love, honesty and respect, we will be moved forward to be what God created us to be.


May 29, 2007

I found something interesting in my study this week:

John 12:24 says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls
into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much
fruit. (NASB)

Ever felt all alone? Lately, God has been showing me the importance of conflict in life. Conflict hurts and most of the time I want to run from it. Yet, if we are willing to go through conflict, we are propelled forward – conflict causes growth. But if we refuse to engage and avoid all conflict, we will end up isolated and without deep relationships.

However, if we become like the grain of wheat in this verse – being willing to die to self, lay down our natural and immediate defenses, we can then look at those around us as struggling people who make mistakes just like us. In dying, we are no longer abiding alone.

Then, as we die to ourselves, we allow the Holy Spirit to grow His fruit in us, and we become the people we were created to be. This is the flourishing that only comes from a life of surrender. A life of surrender to the Holy Spirit becomes a life filled with love.

The question remains, what is good conflict. I’ll talk more about that later.


May 26, 2007

As I garden this weekend – actually I’m trying to turn my weed patch into a lawn – I am reminded of all the weeds in life, and the importance of regular maintenance.

Without daily watering from the Word, I soon become wilted and brittle.

Without regular times with God, listening, the weeds in my life grow unchecked.

Without regular discipline with my time and appetites, I grow unchecked, no longer a beautiful masterpiece, but an overgrown mess.

Have you ever visited someone’s house who has surrounded themselves with sparse beauty? You relax when you walk in, you feel like you are in a castle.

Yet, have you ever visited someone’s house who has surrounded themselves with every thing that struck their fancy? It is a mess, overgrown and overwhelming.

So my prayer today is this: Where are the weeds? Lord, help me to let You root them out. Where am I overgrown? Lord, give me the courage to release habits and appetites that have created clutter in my life. And today, water my life with Your Word, and the love from other Christians. Help me and my life to be a joy to others and a representation of Your grace in every way. Amen

Be Still

May 24, 2007

Psalms 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God”

For years I have taken this verse to mean – stop in the middle of worship and feel God’s presence. Know that He is God, the one whom you are worshipping. But today, as I contemplate what God has been teaching me lately, I think that is very short sighted.

The rest of the verse reads: “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Here are a couple other verses on being still:

Psalms 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out wicked schemes.”

Zechariah 2:13 “Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.”

I propose that being still can actually mean ‘letting go’.

Letting go of fussing: Have you ever played the ‘if only game’? If only I could get him/her to do this…if only I hadn’t done that. If only I could make my child do what I need them to do. You get the picture. Spending my energy fussing over what is wrong in life is not being still and knowing in the bottom of my heart that God really is God, and He really can calm ALL the waves in my life. He works for good in ALL things.

Letting go of fretting: You know the picture – Your child is home late, the bills are bigger than the income, maybe you’ve reached mid-life and don’t feel that you’ve ‘accomplished’ all you could have. Fretting over life takes a lot of energy, and it (in a subtle way) suggests that somehow I have the power to change things, that my ‘work’ of worry is going to make a difference in the outcome. Truthfully, being still and know that God is God, that He loves our children/spouse more than we do, that He is our provider, that our purpose comes from Him – that is what changes things. When we let go of fretting and release those things to God, we get out of the way so we can see His powerful work come about.

Letting go of figuring: I am a great figurer-outer (not a word, but it works.) If I have a problem, I can find six books that address that problem from different angles, and figure out the answer. This is kind of like fretting, only instead of worrying, we are all about figuring things out and fixing them ourselves. No matter how much I figure things out, I still have a finite perspective on things. If I can instead (not after, but instead), be still and know that God is God, I can wait to see how He wants to fix things. After all, His perspective is infinite, and His results are beyond my imagination.

Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 32 and Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20 both faced great big scary situations. But God delivered them. Again and again throughout the Bible, people who came to the end of themselves and relied on God found that He is faithful to meet them at their need.

Today, let’s ‘be still and know that He is God – for He will be exalted not just in the little things, but in the big things as well.