We’re starting today with an object lesson adjusted from the self-worth cowboy on YouTube. Take out the nearest piece of currency you have—maybe it’s a dollar or maybe a nice Benjamin Franklin. Either way, I want you to wad it up. Now, how much is this bill worth? Is it worth the same amount? Of course! It’s worth is inherent, no matter what it’s been used for or what it looks like.
Let’s transfer this to you. No matter what you have done or what has been done to you, you also have inherent worth. Your worth does not come from other people and what they think of you or what you think of yourself. It comes from your Creator, the most high God who loves you.
That is how I recently opened a session with a group of young moms at a local church. When you understand that your self-worth is inherent and from God, then the mistakes you make and others’ criticism won’t have the same negative impact. So how does this relate to conflict in the church? Women in particular tend to avoid conflict. But when we feel good about ourselves, the more confidence we have, and the more likely we are to seek healing in our relationships—even if that means having a difficult conversation or two.
So Christians and non-Christians alike are often baffled about why we even have conflict in the church. We have conflict because we are still people. Forgiven, but not yet perfect. Sometimes we are just simply judgmental, impatient, and hard on others—in other words, human. The New Testament church had conflict. Paul mentions one in Philippians 4, pleading with two women to get along. James 4 points out the source of our quarrels and conflicts is our own selfish motives.
Maybe you’ve had a disagreement with another church member and you handled it by avoiding each other. Makes it just about impossible to forgive, doesn’t it? Let me suggest a different strategy:
- Begin by praying for that person regularly. Put it on your calendar. Healing can begin to occur through prayer for that other person.
- From his/her perspective, what is your role in the conflict? Take responsibility.
- Go the person. Okay, I know that is NOT what you wanted to hear, but it is biblical. Matthew 18:15-17 tells us to try and resolve conflicts one-on-one first. That also means no gossiping to other people!
- Script what you want to say so you don’t let emotions run the dialogue.
- Be direct. Use “I” statements such as “I was hurt,” “I had a bad attitude,” or “I did not show grace.”
- Don’t wait. You know that, but I just had to include that here. Get it over with so things don’t fester.
- Don’t expect perfect healing right away, but keep praying. Even (especially?) Christian egos are sensitive.
There is healing after conflict. Ask God to help you think the best of the other person. Seek them out each week, even just to say hello. Pray for healing and just watch what God will do!