Research

Turning from Destroying to Building Healthy Relationships

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

We can grow beyond our natural tendency to put others down by focusing on what Christ did for us and...

Why People in Church Fight? Part VI

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12

We can grow beyond our natural tendency to put others down by focusing on what Christ did for us and realizing he did that for others too, even the one(s) we seek to put down. The antidote to criticism is the continual practice of encouragement. When we decide to bring comfort and consolation to others, rather than condescending comments and retorts, we are actually putting courage into another person. Consider that when we put down a friend, a loved one, or a spouse, we are actually saying you are not worthy, you are not loved, and you are not accepted or appreciated. We are actually called to build up our friends, coworkers, and spouse. We are called to make them feel loved, accepted, and appreciated. We are to show Christ’s love, not our disapproval.

The Bible gives us clear direction on how we are to keep our attitude and mouths under God's direction, not ours. Proverbs gives us many verses that shows us our human weaknesses and fallen state that seeks out the destruction of one another instead of building one another up as God desires us to do.

Our behaviors in daily life and in church are reflections of our motives, each one leading to another, as a chain reaction. By cutting the top of the link of the sin chain, we can remove most of the problems we cause, experience, and endure from others in our personal life, church, and even society at large. The inward choice to hold onto dysfunction and anger is murder because one will lead to the other, maybe not literally, but as a destroyer of relationships. And, in God’s eyes, relationships are the most important things in our livesâ€"besides Him!

We have a call to keep our relations healthy by being people who are willing to relinquish pride, and seek forgiveness and reconciliation. This is essential before we can go to God. We are to seek resolution to problems quickly, as they come up. When we do not, they fester, get worse, and kill the relationship. So, be a person who is willing to reconcile and to solve problems, not escalate themâ€"one who will do all in your power to end them! Do not neglect your motives or the root causes of broken relationships, sin, and the murder of what God has given you.

You can stop the escalation of hurling verbal weapons that destroy relationships. You have the call and the power to stop the misunderstandings, depression, anger, hurt, frustration, and fears. How? By understanding that Christianity is about yieldingâ€"yielding to Godâ€"and placing Him and others first. Thus, there is no need to hold the high ground in an argument for attack purposes. Rather, surrender your ground for a common peace. This does not mean that you would be a doormat, letting people walk all over and manipulate you. Remember the section on boundaries. This does not mean you are being a coward, rather, a person of maturity! This is about placing Christ first as Lord over all. Life is not always about you; it is always about Himâ€"Christ as Lord!

By being a person who seeks reconciliation, we will avoid needless strife and stress in our churches and personal livesâ€"especially as a body of Christ. How sad it is when secular courts have to go in and resolve deputes between brothers in the Lord! Having an unforgiving attitude is fatal to worship; we cannot truly worship God with a heart of anger, contempt, and bitterness! When we seek to worship Him in that state, it is an extreme insult to Him! This attitude will have lasting consequences into eternity and judgment!

Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

What can we do? We need to yield to the knowledge and trust of God’s goodness as well as His supremacy and right of judgment. It is imperative that we live what we preach. Being a hypocrite is a disgusting obsession in the face of our loving and gracious Lord as well as in our witness to others! We need to receive the offering of His grace ourselves and be willing and able to give grace to others. We must commit to use His goodness as a guide to how we treat others. We need to feel sorrow for our miss-actions and compassion towards others for theirs (within reasonâ€"there is no license to keep on sinning). God is generous with His grace, so we should be generous toward one another and be thankful. Finally, if we refuse to see His goodness and refuse to turn from sin, we are acting with ultimate contempt to our loving Lord! Thus, our relationships will not be healthy!

Remember the importance of integrity; keep your promises, to your members and fellow staff as you would to a spouse and child. Remember the place and purpose of humor; it is to lift others up, never to bring them down. It must not be used to cover feelings or as an instrument used to withdraw from others by using jokes instead of real words of communication.

Make the decision and then commit to making your church relationships work, as with a family member or in a marriage. Make sure you expose the positive! Tell someone when they have done something good, especially a child! Stop the escalation of “button pushing” and inciting the other. You have the power in Christ to stop this cascade of relational dysfunction. The church in Camel, Ca that Schaeffer personally consulted refused to do this, now nearly thirty years later, they still have not recovered. Remember, you are not responsible for how they treat you; however, you are responsible for how you treat them! As a Christian leader, you are the bearer of hopeâ€"His Hope. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so act accordingly! Of course, if a relationship is too dysfunctional, seek qualified help and do not place yourself in a compromising situation or in danger. Not all relationships will work, even in a church and that is OK! The exception is that if you are married, you are called to make it work unless there are biblical grounds not to. You also need to recognize there will be disappointments and setbacks in reconciliation. It takes patience, tact, and a lot of prayer to rebuild from the hurts and fears you may have experienced. Remember that others have them, too!

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. John 13:3-4

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

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