Today’s post is based on chapter 15 of my latest book, Newness of Life, recently released on Amazon. Get your copy today for $2.99!
At the dinner table this week, I considered how to tell a story about personal conflict in a way my children would understand.
I posed this scenario:
Suppose you are sitting in math class. Your teacher singles you out in front of everyone and says, “You stink at math!” You know it’s not true, and your teacher is being mean for no good reason. What would you do?
The Leader’s Response
My firstborn son, who isn’t afraid of conflict and can have a temper, said, “I would say, ‘Maybe I’m not good at math because you’re not a good math teacher.'” His younger brother and sister got a kick out of that snarky response.
I said, “Well, what if your teacher then says, ‘Go straight to the principal’s office!’ What would you tell the principal when he says, ‘I heard you were speaking disrespectfully to your teacher’?”
He said, “I wouldn’t be afraid to get in trouble. I won’t let anyone push me over, not even a teacher.”
Oh, this boy! I tell you, his confidence inspires me, but I know his dad and I will have many opportunities to shape his leadership gifts in the future. We want him to be a caring leader, not a tyrant, and I think we both will learn how to speak the truth in love as we parent our firstborn.
The Peacemaker’s Response
Then it was my middle child’s turn to answer, and he has a classic peacemaker personality. He didn’t answer with words: he silently turned his head to the side. I said, “What are you doing?”
He said with a smile, “I’m turning the other cheek. If I had to say anything, I’d say, ‘You hit me on one cheek; here’s the other one.'”
I loved his creative solution. I wish I was that witty in the heat of conflict. If someone did this to me, it would shut me up immediately because I’d feel convicted. If I take this approach with my current offender, I wonder if it may get them thinking about how their words hurt others.
The Matthew 18 Response
My daughter, the baby of the family, said this. “I wouldn’t say anything in front of the class. But afterward I would go up to the teacher and tell him he was wrong. If he didn’t apologize, I’d go to the principal for help.”
Her oldest brother said, “You can’t do that! That’s letting someone run all over you! You have to speak up.”
I explained to my son that not everyone has the confidence to confront in the heat of the moment. I said it’s not always wise to speak out against someone’s bad behavior, especially in front of others. And, I told him most females are conditioned not to lash out. (At least that’s the way I was raised.)
I told my daughter her response would model Jesus’ example in Matthew 18. I explained to them how I had recently tried to follow Jesus’ example in a personal conflict. The offender insulted me in front of others, and later I went to them privately and confronted them. Confrontation didn’t improve our relationship, but it kept my conscience clean, because I did what I could to create peace.
A time for war does not always create peace. Yet peace cannot be won without battles, and we must learn to confront wisely in the hopes of winning peace.
Questions for reflection: (please comment below)
What is your response to this scenario of “war?”
How have you confronted poorly in the past? How have you confronted wisely?
What step can you take today to create peace in your world?
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“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV
No matter what season you are in, God is teaching you valuable lessons to grow your faith and trust in Him. We will discover what God is saying through the different times and activities we traverse.
I look forward to hearing how God is working in your current life season. I hope you will join in the fun and discussion on the online Bible study.
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