Being in Conflict (part eight)
We’re looking at a fifth principle: “Who, before What and How.” When we’re in conflict, the natural press is to zero-in on what must be done and how to do it—in order to remove the source of stress (the conflict) as quickly as possible.
As human beings, each of us prefers that our lives be a certain way.
Each of us has a “preferred version” of life and each of us has developed our own “ways and means” to try to get life to behave the way we prefer.
So, your preferred version of life has at least three committed opponents:
2) other people’s preferred version of life, and
3) God—who is absolutely committed to developing you into the kind of person who lives an exemplary life. In other words: your development as a leader and follower of Christ.
When your preferred version of life bumps up against reality, against other people’s ideas about how life is supposed to be, or against God’s character-building designs for you— friction results.
And as you’ve noticed: reality doesn’t give in.
God, thankfully, is more committed to your development than you are. So, God rarely gives in.
So, rather than surrender your fantasy about how your life and the people in it should be, your “ways and means committee” goes to work on the people near you. In dozens of creative, cunning, unrelenting, manipulating, bullying, shaming, fear-inducing ways you labor to undermine their commitment to their “fantasy” of life, so you can have yours!
All the while… God is after your heart.
Who, before what and how.
The essential question is not how do you get your way, your preference, or your fantasy. The essential question is: what would love do?
Love won’t necessarily capitulate to what someone else wants, because, to do so might not be loving for them. Let’s say you are close to someone struggling with an addiction. There are times when your friend would prefer to indulge the desire to use. You could conspire with that desire simply by slackening your vigilant support of your friend’s sobriety. But doing this wouldn’t be love at all.
Now, back to conflict.
When considering who, before what and how—we each get to lean into the formation of Christ-likeness in our character: demonstrated in our response to the people and circumstances in which we’re embroiled in conflict.
In shorthand: what would love call me to do?
Being in Conflict 8.docx