Lessons on conflict

September 23, 2021

From Pastor Joey

While enjoying my retirement, I have been writing a book and taking classes on writing a novel. One lesson I enjoyed was the one on conflict in a story. The essence of the lesson might be that stories without conflict are boring. I must say that now I am gainfully unretired, I can assure you that Trinity UMC is not boring. Our church family, aka the motley crew, is ripe with fascinating characters, vivid plot lines, and yes—our share of conflict. We are not boring!

The problem with conflict is that it can be destructive if it festers. If it is eternally unresolved. If it becomes mean. So, is there a healthy way to be in conflict? This is not a rhetorical question.

Let me give a personal example. When Ole and I got married, we enjoyed the honeymoon phase. Then the reality of an ongoing relationship, true love, and day-by-day living set in. During one disagreement, I did my passive-aggressive thing of getting mad and then distancing myself. Ole said, “Honey, you have to learn to fight.” Six months later, he put both arms out—palms forward in surrender, and said, “Okay. You’ve learned to fight.” Even then we learned that it is not as easy as it sounds.

Here are personal things I have learned:

  • Leaving issues unresolved can be toxic.
  • Sometimes it helps to have a third person to be the neutral listener and feedback person.
  • Listening is a skill that can be learned. This doesn’t make it easy. Even mastering “I” messages is not easy. (I think that you are…is not an “I” message. I feel… I think. It is my perception…are nice beginnings).
  • My worldview is not the only worldview in the family. Just because someone has a different view, doesn’t make it wrong. A dysfunctional worldview embraces black and white thinking, blaming, seeking allies when one on one communication is needed.
  • Jesus invites us to be and become the body of Christ. The disciples role model that relationship is not easy. They misunderstood him (You are the Messiah—but what is this die and be raised stuff?), argued with him (do we really have to stay and feed these people?), betrayed him (Peter in the courtyard—the rooster crows). And yet they became his message of everlasting love and kindness which echoes to this day.

Let us know that conflict is unavoidable. That we are blest with dedicated church leaders who invite us into healthy relationships. As pastor, I look forward to being one of the leaders of this most definitely non-boring congregation.

Some Concerns that we have:

  • Pastor Brad and Dorothy for Brad’s health issues.
  • For those who continue to go through physical struggles, those who are dealing with cancer, or other health situations. For those who are emotionally feeling lost and alone.
  • For those who haven’t been vaccinated yet; for all those who are ill from the Covid-19 virus; for those families who have lost loved ones to the virus; and for essential workers.
  • For peace in our country.
  • For Katherine Parker, missionary to Nepal.