Call – Opelika-Auburn News
Overcome conflict by remembering
what really matters
Conflict is always with us. There is
no way to avoid it. No one is immune to the debilitating effect of conflict. Discord
does its damage, silently and insidiously, on the inside of the mind and the
body. Outwardly we may manage to smile but inwardly we are churning.
Sometimes we create conflict and bring
trouble on ourselves. At other times it just shows up, like a sudden
thunderstorm, without warning. Friction or a dispute becomes a heated skirmish
and people begin taking sides.
Church and community fights are like
that. A dispute can mushroom quickly into a fierce struggle. People can make
accusations, express harsh feelings, and an argument can have a life of its
own. Antagonists bait friends and family members, urging them to take a stand.
Some will even resort to intimidation to gain strength for their side.
Some people get so embroiled in
disagreements that they become irrational. When that happens these feuds feed
on emotion and calm thinking is nowhere to be found. Overnight friends become
enemies over issues that do not merit the loss of friendship.
When we find ourselves in the middle
of such hostility, it will help us, no matter what side we are on, to step back
and remember what truly matters. Stunned by an ugly disagreement in which I was
involved, I paused to reflect on what is really important, what really matters
to me and to most people.
First, people are more important
than things. People matter. Things are here today and gone tomorrow. We can do
without things; we can get some more stuff. But losing a friend is a
devastating experience. So friends are important. They are so important that we
ought not to give them up because of a difference of opinion.
Second, truth is important. Lies
lose. Rumors rot. Deceit fails. Truth will never let us down. It is like solid
rock while deception is like shifting sand. So truth matters and it pays to stand
by the truth at all costs. Truth is always our ally.
Third, respect is important. One of
the great treasures of my life is the respect of my wife, my family, and my
friends. Because respect means so much to me, I must refrain from conduct that
might rob me of the respect of those who have faith in me. If my adversaries
stoop to lying and slander, I must take the high ground rather than retaliate.
Respect is so important that I must resist the surge of anger and resentment
that can slip so easily into my mind. I can choose not to be angry. I can
refuse to resent the behavior of others. Though these are not easy choices,
they are possible.
Fourth, faithfulness to God is
important. Many good causes beg for our devotion. Many people tell us what we
ought to do. But we can get so caught up in trying to please people that we can
overlook what God expects. Ultimately the only approval that really matters is
the approval of God. I am accountable to God; we all are. He has a plan for living and he expects us to
follow it. When we refuse to obey God, we lose the only thing worth saving -
the chance to hear him say one day, "Well done." So obeying God is so
important that often we must refuse to do what other well-meaning people want
us to do so that we may please God. Peace with others usually results from
doing the right thing in the eyes of God.
Finally, love is important. Love
wins. Hate loses. Stir up hate and dissension and you will live to regret it.
Breeding strife is like spitting into the wind. It is like sliding down the
banisters of life with all the splinters pointed at you. Sooner or later you
will pay for it because you will lose respect for yourself and the respect of
others. Those who love win in the long run. Those who ignore love and insist on
having their own way may win a skirmish but eventually they will lose the war.
Life is truly difficult. Disagreements,
issues and conflicts often bring us to our knees. But one thing is sure: it
helps to calm down, step back and take a few minutes to remember what really
matters. Having done that, we can with a clearer mind work to resolve conflict
rather than allow it to destroy us. + + +