Why People in Church Fight? Part II
Why would we want to Research this?
This may sound like it is way out in left field. Why research how and why people in church fight? Why talk about how to destroy a relationship? Are we not already pretty good at this? Does this subject fit in to how to build a better Church? The answer is, yes. Because, if we know what destroys our personal and church relationships, we can be on guard to prevent it, just as we need to know how Satan operates so we can buffet an attack and go through Spiritual Warfare unscarred. It is the same in church relationships; we have to know what destroys us so we can guard ourselves and protect one another as God has called us too. It is my experience, as a counseling pastor, that most people are very good at destroying our relationships, including me. But, what we tend not to be good at is recognizing how and why we do it. We do not realize the subtle ploys that have become habits that imbed like a wedge into each other, thus, pushing others away and causing a once good church to split or close down. In fact, most of us are just too good at taking down good friendships and causing once-good marriages to end in irreconcilable differences, when they were once harmonious and reconciled. And then we carry these skills to the church lobby and meeting rooms that affect our worship and outreach. How and why does this happen will be one our great allies to build an effective healthy church! Oh, by the way, this also goes for us on how to build successful personal and marriage relationships too!
So what is the root? Sin! Sin is the elephant in the living room that very few people in psychology engage in or even in Evangelical Christianity talk about, yet sin is in every aspect of our human endeavor.
Thus, each of these symptoms we will show comes from our sinful nature and pride that are at the root of every conflict and problem we will face. Our personal agendas take precedence over God and His precepts and call. This is sin! This is what destroys churches as well as work relationships and marriages. Thus, our sinful nature creates these "symptoms" as offensive attacks and defensive countermeasures. They are drummed up to protect us from hurt, isolate us from harm, and protect our fears; yet, all they do is escalate problems and conflict, bringing the very hurt and harm we may have wanted to avoid in the first place.
These five symptoms grow slowly and mutate, then spread to all areas of the relationship under attack until it becomes a pattern for a life and existence of hurt, bitterness, and anger. Yet, as powerful as these symptoms are, they are not the reason for the relationship breakdowns. They just are the wedge that the swinging sledgehammer of pride, anger, and our personal will finally hits. For this is how you fall a great big tree with a small saw, an iron wedge and an ax with a sledge hammer end. You cut a slice, with the saw halfway through the tree at an angel, and then cut a small chunk out in the saw grove with the ax. Then place the wedge in the slit you just made and hammer it in with the ax end. Then a terrible sound emerges as a hundred year old tree of magnificence and beauty, falls to the ground in an earthshaking thud. Thud goes the church as these symptoms are flowing from the causes that saw at the hurt and then we wedge in the bitterness, which causes virtually all fights in a church or in a friendship or in a marriage. These symptoms, which are so hard to contain and stop, are rooted at one source: our PRIDE.
By the way, pride is the Great Sin we all ignore, rarely preach or study about or personally deal with. Yet, pride is quintessential thing God hates the most; see the Scripture in any concordance for your proof.
Church Breakdowns are festered by our Response from others.
In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. Psalm 10:4
There are five key aspects with which we humans come against each other as a defense mechanism in our church and personal relationships. These symptoms become our arsenal for attacking others so we are protected from their attack. We use them to be self-protective by creating offensive measures to protect ourselves while destroying others, encompassing simple arguments to total war. These are the root issues from which our behaviors and responses stem. These five responses are:
1. Being Defensive!
2. Being Critical!
3. Being Condescending!
4. Withdrawing from others!
5. Uncontrolled Anger
· How often do these defense mechanisms take place in your church?
· How often do these defense mechanisms take place in your relationships?
· How often do you personally engage in one or more of these?
Defensiveness, Criticalness, Contemptuous and Withdraw!
These are all formed from our anger, disappointments, and hurt and all rooted in our-pride. This is a cancer to the living body of Christ's Body of our collative relationships. In these negative, dysfunctional responses, we will push God aside and fuel them with our anger and betrayal and thus continue the cycle of relationship and church breakdown!!!
When we become aware of these cancerous underpinnings that we all harbor, we can then start to bridle them. In this way, they can be controlled and steered away from the harming of our loved ones and friends.
How can I bridle these cancerous emotions and attacks?
By knowing who you are in Christ, and by the knowledge that God accepts you in spite of your failures and sin because of His delivered grace for us. This realization helps us in all aspects of relationship building, so we can choose to be deliverers of His grace to others. Because Christ has delivered me, thus I respond in kind. By being willing to stop the escalation of relationship breakdown through the exchange of our hurt and anger for love, grace, and forgiveness, our lives will be tremendously more content, joyful, and fulfilling at home and at church.
But, before we get to the healing, we need to realize that all relationships involve emotions. We have a natural tendency to put up our guard to protect us from getting hurt. These guards have weapons of relationship mass-destruction available which can be used from the smallest offence to the biggest betrayal. We will launch a first strike with our weapons of Defensiveness, Contempt, Criticism, and Withdraw often unaware or callused to their effect in the short term and long term. We have to understand that our emotional guards involve these weapons. When we start to see as Christ sees, we will realize these weapons are outmoded by His work and His supremacy. We do not need them since all they do is cause destruction; they have no building or equipping power. They just indiscriminately destroy, when Christ calls us to build. Christ gives us care and affection, therefore we have the call to show affection and care for others.
And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. Colossians 1:18
God calls us to bear each other's burdens without letting those burdens break us. By understanding the role of restoring, we can pursue restoration and not the defensiveness of our hurts. We have the tendency to protect our hurts, fears, and wounds from others by attacking them first. In military terms, this is a classic preemptive attack, which is the attack-before-they-attack-us approach. However, in a healthy relationship centered church, we are not to be at war in a combative mode; rather, we are to be in a reconciling mode. We are not each others enemies, we are children of God, our enemy is what tears us apart, sin and our pride and defense mechanisms!
© 2008, Research from 1980- 1998, 2007-2008, R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/