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Getting Over Defensive Mechanisms!

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
Why People in Church Fight? Part V

If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions...

Why People in Church Fight? Part V

If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. Galatians 6:3-5

All of these defense mechanisms that eat at the foundations of our churches are rooted in our self-centeredness. Do you struggle with self-centeredness? If so, you should take careful note that this mindset is one of the best ways to find the wrath of God! I struggle with this and this is something you may not want to experience! We have to know there is only One God and, guess what? You nor I are Him! A Christian must practice what we preach. We cannot be “two faced,” doing one thing and saying another. If you like to do this or find comfort in it, you need to know that this is a great way to bring up dysfunctional children! This is a great way to destroy the work of God in your church. It is also a great way to keep people away from you and your fellowship and ministry. But, of course, this should not be your goal. Self-centeredness only makes you lose out on life’s precious opportunities. Yes, there are the megalomaniac pastors, those in our pulpits and on TV who seem to be very successful, and I believe they will be severally judged and I also believe it is Satan that uses them not God, just read 2 Peter and see what God has to say. Just look at their fruit, it is usually very rotten! Now, we need to ask ourselves, do I do this? Am I self-centered? Do I condemn or putdown or quench others for what I do in secret? If so, what are you going to do about it?

Paul’s point is this; everyone should know better than to sin! Healthy churches cannot exist in the atmosphere of self-centeredness and pride by its leaders or by pastors or by key people! When we engage in these behaviors, we are putting down the very people for whom God died on the cross and then gave to us to mentor and care. He gave His life, in agony and pain, to redeem, and yet we find it necessary to put down that same person. We have to see this as heinous. It is unproductive, destructive, and slaps our Lord in His face, saying, in essence, that we know better than He does, this is “my” church and not Yours!

So, what can I do to stop these defense mechanismsâ€"pride and self-centerednessâ€"from ruining my relationships and church? Start to be aware of how you come across to others. Listen to positive feedback as well as the negative. Ask a friend or pastor for advice, and be willing to listen without engaging in negative attitudes. Realizing that you are engaging in disruptive behaviors is half the battle; the other half is much easier.

Start to consciously replace your negative feedback with positive comments. Start to use complements and be encouraging without faking it. See yourself as a diplomat of Christ and conform your attitude likewise (2 Cor. 5:20). See others as Christ sees themâ€"as His child and loved by Him. So, when you have a concern or a conflict, slow down, observe your attitude and behaviors, and start to listen to the other person. Then, repeat what they said and give them positive feedback. Seek the effective repair of your relationship and not the escalation of the hurt or anger. Then deal with the concern in a loving way. Place the focus on the situation and not the person, validating them as a person for whom you care while seeking forgiveness and reconciliation. See the “replacement words” in Chapter V, Understanding the Importance of Being Good of the Book Field Guide Building Healthy Relationships....

Consider how you use personal pronouns such as you? Such as, you never, you always, you should, you cannot… A simple replacement of “you” with “I” and “we” will do wonders to your relationships. Such as, I would, I like, I love, I feel, I hear, how might I … And, we should, we can, we could, we need, in what ways might we… By taking the “you” away you place “yourself” into the conversation. Taking the “you” out brings you in! You will be able to remove blame so the focus is on reconciliation. You will be able to remove contempt, because you have to bow yourself to the other person. You will be able to remove criticism, as you cannot criticize with and “I”. You will then be able to remove defensiveness, because the wall made of the bricks of “You” has been torn down. Then you can be a builder and equipper not a person who pushes away others!

Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. Psalm 19:12-13

The key is to stay away from judgments, seeking fault in others, and putdowns and focus on goodness. We already all have way too much criticism in our lives from our coworkers, boss, teachers, parents, siblings, friends, the media, and thus we do not need it from our fellow church members and leaders; there is no need as a body of Christ to add to it. Then we will be able to worship, praise, encourage and respect our fellow Christians, or family, or spouse and the people around us earning their trust because we made them safe and secure.

We will be building our communal communication though being respectful: When we are being…

responsible we are…

evolving our relationship, becoming more…

sincere, learning…

patience, finding…


contentment, and building…

tenderness, …


understanding, and…

listening skills:

Which spells respectful! We can build this security by speaking the truth in love, encouragement and listening.

When we do not put a stop to our avoidances and putdowns of others all this will do is boomerang back at us and split our church. Remember families as well as church relationships are communal and are to be continual.

Do I always have to do this? What about if the other person is pushing too much? If you are in a personal abusive relationship, then get out of it, even if it is a marriage and get counseling and godly advice. Abuse is physical, mental and spiritual. Is your church abusive, get out, are you the one who is abusive, then step down and get help. It is being physical or mentally abusive such as manipulating and the refusal to stop, get help. Get out and get help, then after the abuse is over and you are confident it will not reoccur then reconcile. Make sure you have a trusted and trained counselor helping you or any people who have been abused in your church, in the process!

The bottom line to stop relationship dysfunction is to know we do not need to always be defending and attacking others, whether it is a legitimate betrayal from a trusted pastor, or a friend or spouse or a misunderstanding. Why? Because, our true security is in Christ; when we realize this, we can put up with the dysfunction and negativity of others, and reduce our fears so we can pursue relationships and their healing.

Don’t Allow Disappointments to Consume You

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved--and that by God. Philippians 1:27-28

Disappointments can be defined as the collision between our expectations and our experiences, while ignoring the signposts of God’s promises. Our expectations will collide with our experiences and then create a wrecked life of self-pity and resentment. Or, it can lead to a triumphant life. The choice is ours and the key is where we look for our hope! This is about our circumstances and how we look at our Lord. How we see adversity and His sovereignty will totally affect how we learn from and deal with it.

Unanchored stress and disappointments, along with detachment from looking to God, will prevent us from seeing His signposts of precepts, personally or in leadership. We cannot just expect God to get us through without any effort on our part. To grow, we have to struggle and work it out. It is the struggle that helps us; it is what builds us and forms us. Without it, there is no growth or real impacting faith, honest character, genuine patience, or maturityâ€"and thus, unhealthy relationships.

© 2008, Research from 1980- 1998, 2007-2008, R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development

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