Category Archives: Communication

The Peacemaker’s Pledge

To be human is to have conflict. To shepherd a church is to have conflict among them and with others. How we handle conflict is important! Our church needs to be trained in handling conflict. Our church members are watching us and learning to obey the Lord even as they watch us.

The definitive book is The Peacemaker by Ken Sande. The following is a helpful summary from this book. I believe I saw this summary with a speech organization I am affiliated with.

THE PEACEMAKERS’ PLEDGE

A Commitment to Biblical Conflict Resolution

As people reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are called to respond to conflict in a way that is remarkably different from the way the world deals with conflict (Luke 6:27-36; Gal 5:19-26; Matt 5:9).

We also believe that conflict provides opportunities to glorify God, serve other people, and grow to be like Christ (1Cor 10:31-11:1; Rom 8:28-29; James 1:2-4).  Therefore, in response to God’s love and in reliance on His grace, we commit ourselves to   respond to conflict according to the following principles:

GLORIFY GOD-

a. Instead of focusing on our own desires or dwelling on what others may do, we will seek to please and honor God-
b. by depending on His wisdom, power, and love;
c. by faithfully obeying His commands;
d. and by seeking to maintain a loving, merciful and forgiving attitude
(1Cor 10:31; James 4:1-3; Psa 37:1-6i; Phil 4:2-9; Col 3:1-4; 1Pet 2:12; Jn 14:15; James 3:17-18; Rom 12:17-21; Mk 11:25).

GET THE LOG OUT OF YOUR OWN EYE-

a. Instead of attacking others or dwelling on their wrongs,
b. we will take responsibility for our own contribution to conflicts-confessing our sins, asking God to help us change any attitudes and habits that lead to conflict,
c. and seeking to repair any harm we have caused
(Mt 7:3-5; 1Jn 1:8-9; Prov 28:13; Col 3:5-14; Lk19:8).

GENTLY RESTORE

a. Instead of pretending that conflict doesn’t exist or talking about others behind their backs,
b. we will choose to overlook minor offenses, Proverbs 19:11
c. or we will talk directly and graciously with those whose offenses seem too serious to overlook.
d. When a conflict with another Christian cannot be resolved in private, we will ask others in the body of Christ to help us settle the matter in a biblical manner
(Mt 18:15-20; James 5:9; Gal 6:1-2; Eph 4:29; 2Tim 2:24-26; 1 Cor 6:1-8).

GO AND BE RECONCILED

a. Instead of accepting premature compromise or allowing relationships to wither,
b.  we will actively pursue genuine peace and reconciliation-forgiving others as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven us, and seeking just and mutually beneficial solutions to our differences
(Mt 5:23-24; Mt 6:12; Eph 4:1-3, 32; Mt 7:12; Phil 2:3-4).

By God’s grace, we will apply these principles as a matter of stewardship, realizing that conflict is an opportunity, not an accident.

We will remember that success, in God’s eyes, is not a matter of specific results but of faithful, dependent obedience.

And we will pray that our service as peacemakers bring praise to our Lord and leads others to know His infinite love (Mt 25:14-21; 1Pet 2:19, 4:19; Rom 12:18; Jn 13:34-35).

Having Hard Conversations

One skill a shepherd needs is knowing how to have hard conversations.

In Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud articulates a number of points that I have learned the hard way over the years. (See p. 199ff) I will integrate my thoughts with his.

1. Don’t put off the conversation because you dread the difficulty of it. But don’t rush in. Pray through it and have a plan. What should be in that plan?

2. Begin with the end in mind. Where will the conversation end? “I want to leave the conversation with the person knowing…..” My conversations have often called for repentance – a change of mind resulting in a change of direction. What will happen if there is no change of direction? Be ready for that.

3. Combine care and truth. Have a balance of both. Care about the person and care about the truth. Know your tendency. Do you tend to be too squishy? Do you tend to be too harsh? Be honest, clear, caring, authoritative.

4. Write out the wording. Cloud suggests role-playing. Though I have never done that, I have written out what the facts were or what I wanted to say. Saying something like, (his wording), “I have a list of things I wanted to make sure we covered,” is not strange.

5. Get the tone right. Have a gentle, caring, calm tone can keep the conflict at the lowest necessary point. Moving into a stressed, argumentative, louder, overbearing tone starts to heat the conversation up. It is not only what we say, but how we say it that counts.

6. Be ready for evasion and defensiveness. If we begin with the end in mind, then we will need to prepare for a lack of receptiveness. That often involves listening to the person well, and staying on track with the point of the conversation. “I understand….. but I want to make sure you understand what I am saying…”

7. Express your care for the other person. See #3.  God cares for him or her. You should also. Let him know that. Let him know how this sin is dishonoring God but that you are still committed to loving him biblically.

8. Call for repentance. If you are speaking as spiritual authority and sin is involved, then it is good and right to call for a decision. “In Christ’s name, I am calling on you to repent of….. Will you repent of this sin?

9. Bottom line: cultivate the fear of God, not the fear of man. Having hard conversations will not make you popular. But God will see, and bless it. Others will hear and respect you for it.

Hard conversations have to happen. They are a form of correction. The questions is do we have the courage to have those hard conversations. And when we do have them, are we speaking skillfully?

Killing Church Gossip

Here.

He does not differentiate between the mature person who falls into this sin in your presence. And the person who is characterized by this sin. This list seems abrupt and more for the latter.

I especially like #4 and 5 and have used them.

Good and Bad Gossip

Quick Post on “Good” and Bad Gossip

Bad gossip –  talking to someone who is not part of the problem or solution about an issue or a person. Not even to “pray” about it. Gossip is saying things in private you would not say in public. Flattery is saying things in public you would not say in private. – (Not original with me, can’t remember where I saw it.)

“Good” gossip – I am using the term loosely to describe the Biblical command to talk to spiritual authorities about issues in the body. In 1 Corinthians 1:11 Paul says that some from Chloe’s household have, in addition to delivering a letter asking questions, have also reported problems in the church. They reported real spiritual problems to real spiritual authorities.

Church members need to be encouraged to talk with those in authority when they have a concern. We cannot operate on a Dont Ask Dont Tell policy.

Biblical Confidentiality – In addition, the church needs to be instructed about biblical confidentiality. Some have sought to manipulate others by saying, “I am going to tell you something but you have to promise not to tell.”

The biblical response is “I cannot make that promise. I can promise you biblical confidentiality. I am not going to run out and tell others. But I cannot not nor should not promise absolute confidentiality.” (Seem Matthew 18:15ff, 1 Corinthians 5:1ff). If this is a manipulative situation, you might even need to add, “And you should not ever ask this of anyone. It is wrong.”

Our people need to be clear that we do not needlessly pass on information. BUT we do bring in spiritual authorities as warranted. Pastors are not just church event coordinators. They are real shepherds of God’s flock.

What Should Be Shared with Our Wives – Part 2

Another post on this subject here at the blog Sunday Women.

Megan’s observations:

NEVER share your negative speculations. There are people in ministry who are tough to love, but it’s destructive to share assumptions about their motives.

RARELY share information particularly disturbing to your spouse. Me? I can’t stomach details of substance abuse, so my husband loves me by keeping silent.

RARELY share hurtful information that has no solution. If it can’t be fixed, don’t bother sharing.

SOMETIMES share hurtful information that has a solution. These things can be fixed or, at least, helped.

SOMETIMES share hurtful information because its burden is too great. Some secrets need the additional comfort, wisdom, or prayer that only your spouse can give.

OFTEN share information that will soon be public knowledge. This gives your spouse a chance to mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepare.

ALWAYS share encouragement. Spiritual fruit, progress in holiness, and success in gospel labor are things every spouse needs to hear.

Good thoughts for us as elders/shepherds. Read the whole thing.

Good News in Writing; Bad News in Person

If your brother sins against you, go to him. Matthew 18:15

I mentioned a few Sundays ago the principle I have tried to follow throughout my ministering to other people. I would commend it to our church as a standard. It is captured in this phrase, Good news in writing; Bad news in person.

Following this axiom has more profound implications that we can know.

I know of one pastor who would regularly write 4 -7 page-long criticisms and corrections of others. Rather than speaking in person, he would pour out his corrective and critical thoughts on paper and then mail it away. Needless to say, he wounded many in his congregation by handling conflict this way.

Likewise, I also know many pastors who tell of the painful letters they receive and how those criticisms pierce them deeply. These letters, sometimes anonymous, go into detail about what is wrong in the church or with the leader’s ministry. Today’s email makes this form of criticism even more available. Anonymous letters are particularly painful. Charles Spurgeon had this to say, “An anonymous letter-writer is a sort of assassin, who wears a mask, and stabs in the dark. Such a man is a fiend with a pen. If discovered, the wretch will be steeped in the blackest infamy.”

The problem with handling conflict in writing is that it is not biblical. A writer specifically disobeys Matthew 18:15 which says if your brother sins against you, go to him. We are to go in person, not in writing. Going in person allows there to be give and take, the reading of facial expressions and clarifying questions. Face-to-face communication also tends to soften harsh words. The written letter brings its news and inflicts pain over and over and over again.

We cannot hide behind a keyboard, instead we are commanded to communicate face to face. Because of this principle. I have made it my rule not to read critical letters or emails. Instead, it prompts a phone call to talk about the issue. As a church we are not perfect. We will have our conflicts. But Jesus commands that those conflicts be talked about, not written about.

As you deal with disagreements in the workplace, in your family and in the church, I commend this biblical standard to you.

The Power of Words

Part 1 – God and Words

Part 2 – Jesus the Word and Words

Part 3 – The Gospel and Words

Part 4 – The Christian Life and Word