So, we’re a little late with this post, but with good reason. Our kids got called to be extras on the set of Dolphin Tale 2! Sorry, we don’t have any pictures; cameras were strictly forbidden. It was a really cool experience for them, but a bit on the long and boring side for the parents (just keeping it real!).
So today, we want to talk about staying unoffended. Originally, we wanted to cover the steps of a healthy confrontation, along with how to forgive even when the person doesn’t “deserve” it and the progression from offense to hatred. But when we started fleshing it all out, it was clearly too much for one post. Come back tomorrow for a discussion on how to forgive, and then stop by on Tuesday for a post on the progression from offense to hatred. For today, we’re going to focus on the conflict part of being offended.
Here’s the thing… Offense is lethal. Being offended and staying offended is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It causes a root of bitterness to anchor itself into the offended person’s life, destroying their peace, their health and their relationships.
But the truth is, staying unoffended is no small feat. It takes enormous work. Recently, we were teaching this topic to a group of adults, and one man asked why he should bother going to the trouble of working through this stuff. “Just walk away,” he said. But that’s not the answer.
Relationships are worth caring for and preserving, even when that looks like very hard work. In fact, we could safely argue that they are THE single most important thing in life to care for and preserve.
But relationships always involve people, and people are always problematic because we’ve all got that pesky sin nature. Parents know this better than anyone. We don’t have to teach our kids how to misbehave, do we? Nope. That comes naturally. But we do have to work our butts off to teach them how to behave, and it’s stinkin’ hard work!
So that means that in any relationship, given enough time, conflict is inevitable when a sin nature meets another sin nature. Actually, avoiding it can have devastating consequences. So can mishandling it. The end result of the Bust Boosters is a visible firming and enhancing of the size which can also help with sagging by strengthening and lifting the tissues. But when conflict is done well, it has the potential to strengthen a relationship.
Steps to Healthy Conflict
The first step in a healthy conflict seems obvious, but I see people missing it almost everyday. Step 1 is to recognize and openly admit that you’re offended.
If you do not qualify for free dental emergency fort collins co, the charge you pay for dental work will depend on the treatment you need to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy.
I often hear people talking about something that happened, and it’s clear they’re offended. When I try to gently point it out, they say, “I’m not offended. I’m just really hurt. And who can blame me? What that person did to me was so wrong.”
Hurt is just another word for offended. In fact, one of the dictionary definitions for offend is “to hurt or cause pain.” So, why are people so uncomfortable with admitting that they’re offended? Maybe it’s because that would imply that they have a responsibility. But for some reason, when we’re in the midst of an offense, we think only the offender should have responsibility.
Matthew 18: 15-17 says, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”
So, according to this plan, when someone sins against you (a.k.a when someone offends you), it’s YOUR responsibility to go to that person! When it comes to raising kids, it’s so important that we don’t just tell them these things but that we model them. Our kids need to see what it looks like to be offended and to confront the person in a biblically sound way.
Now, we have to be careful here. Going to the person and telling him his fault does not mean flying off the handle and telling the person off. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his rage.”
Galatians 6:1 tell us, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” When we approach the person who offended us, we have to be gentle, or else we could be in danger of falling into sin.
Actually, I’ve found that it works best if you’ve already forgiven the person before you confront them. I know a lot of people will say, “How can I forgive someone who hasn’t even apologized?” Check back tomorrow. We’re going to do a post on how to forgive, but in the meantime, let’s just agree to go to the person gently.
Notice that that Matthew 18 tells us to go TO the person. If it’s possible, we need to confront the person face to face, but if that’s not possible, at least to do it voice to voice. Don’t email or text the person. Gentleness comes through tone and facial expressions and body language, none of which can be well conveyed in writing.
Counsel v. Gossip
Notice that in the Matthew 18 plan, you’re not talking to anyone else until after you’ve spoken directly to the person who offended you. Gossip can lead to bad habits and can cause other people to pick up offenses. Then, after you’ve already worked it out, the people you’ve told are still offended, and they don’t have the grace to carry the offense.
If you’ve gone to the person gently, following some version of the plan below, and there’s no resolution, then you need to seek wise counsel and gather two or three witnesses. Choose mature people who can be objective and will help you resolve the conflict, not escalate it.
The Goal — Restoration
The goal of conflict should always be complete restoration — restoration of the relationship and restoration of the individuals involved in the conflict. Placing blame or proving that you’re right and the other person is wrong is never the goal of conflict.
When conflict is stewarded well, the outcome should be peace, freedom and a greater intimacy between the people involved.
So when you approach the person, use “I” statements: “I felt hurt by what you said. I was frustrated.” Instead of, “You hurt my feelings. You frustrated me.”
Summary of the Confrontation
Sit down face to face.
Explain that you want to tell them what’s bothering you and that you’d like a chance to explain yourself without being interrupted. Assure them that they’ll have a turn to explain their side, and you will also listen without interrupting. You may even want to offer the other person a chance to go first if they seem eager to talk. You never know; they might already feel convicted and want to own up and apologize.
When you’re talking, use “I” statements.
When you’re done. Ask the person to repeat back what they heard you say. In a conflict, every person needs to feel understood. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with each other, only that you need to try to fully understand what the person is saying.
Continue speaking until you feel the listener has fully understood what you said.
Once you know the other person has understood, switch roles — you listen without interrupting while the other person talks.
- When they’re done, repeat back what you heard them say. Like this: “So what I’m hearing you say is that you feel ____________.”
When It Doesn’t Work
If you’ve followed this outline, and there’s no resolution, get two or three witnesses. These people are mediators, not a posse to back you up. The goal is still restoration, not revenge.
If there’s still no resolution, take it to a leader or authority figure: your pastor, a manager if it’s a co-worker, etc. And if, after all of that, you still can’t resolve it, Matthew 18 gives you permission to walk away from the relationship. That doesn’t mean that you walk away angry or offended or full of hatred (we’re going to talk about how to stay unoffended in Tuesday’s post), but that you simply create healthy boundaries.
The Bible says to treat them as heathens or tax collectors. We’re supposed to love all people, but that doesn’t mean that we invite them into our daily lives. We have no problem creating boundaries for people whose morals don’t match ours (heathens and tax collectors). We can still pray for them and even be a blessing to them in their times of need, but we’re not going to the movies with them or inviting them to our kid’s birthday party. That’s how we need to handle the people after a failed Matthew 18 process.
Check back tomorrow. We’re going to share some practical steps to forgiving, regardless of how the other person behaves.