Sunday, October 10, 2010

On Conflict

I've been reading a study by Robertson McQuilken.  {He's the former president of Columbia University who resigned to care for his wife who had Alzheimer's.  You can listen to him tell a bit of his very touching story in this video.}

A few days ago the study was about dealing with conflict.  Conflict is one of those things that I either fully throw myself and my emotions into or avoid like the plague!  There is no in-between, middle ground, emotional stability for me when it comes to any sort of conflict.  So, needless to say, this was a much needed topic for me.  And it couldn't have come in a more timely manner.

There was a specific situation we were dealing with after three weeks being in a new country.  It was something very dear to my heart.  It would have meant letting go, completely trusting God, completely giving up my own control, lost resources, etc.

McQuilken suggests that two main attitudes toward God and two main attitudes toward others are the key factors to avoid or resolve conflicts:

God orientation - 
1. unconditionally yield my will to God
2. trust him with the outcome

"The God-ward attitude adjustment to avoid or resolve conflict, then, is to yield unconditionally to God's will, even if it means loss.  That's 'taking up your cross.'  'Daily,' remember!  And if we do that and intend to remain sane and content, we'll need to trust God with the outcome.  Yield and trust."

Other's orientation -
1. love
2. humility

"Love...seeks the welfare of the loved one, eve at personal sacrifice.  And, as James points out, that kind of peace-making takes humility."

He then suggests two actions that help avoid or resolve conflict:

1. prayer
2. take action (initiative) - don't not act

"...[God] offers prayer as an antidote for worry or un-peace."
"...until I yield up my 'right to be right' and learn to trust God with the outcome I'm not in a position to confront my opponent at all.  It won't be in love and humility!  But when I get those attitudes adjusted, I'm ready to take the first step."
"A fundamental principle in taking this first step is to obey the command to be quick to listen, slow to talk (James 1:19).  When you meet, immediately get to listening and listen so well that each of you can state the issue in such a way the other will agree you have understood his or her position."
"Genuine listening means you're open, honest, and even vulnerable, ready not only to listen to criticism but to accept it without counter-attack."
"Since you are his, he'll look out after your interests, so relax."
When I first heard the news, I reacted pretty intensely (as usual).  I said all sorts of things to Lee without really thinking about what I was saying.  Not against Lee, but about the situation.

So, I took a couple of days to pray through the situation.  Then the news hit again and I cried and cried and cried!  But then I prayed and let Lee do most of the talking.  And I was able to let it go.  I felt peace that it must be the Lord's will, so I yielded my will to his.  I figured he could see the other side of the picture better than I could.  I truly had released it to the point of making future plans based on the new situation.

And then, the next day, everything was resolved.  The situation had totally reversed itself and became a non-issue. 

But I came out a better person.  It was part of the journey he has me on to make me more like him, to sanctify me.  It's still a long road, but I'm grateful for his hand in my life, molding and shaping me, like the waves shape the shore.

How has God been shaping you lately?

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