Settling Disagreements

Locking HornsLocking horns. It can happen often. Two strong personalities with strong ideas are bound to disagree. Add more strong personalities to the mix and it is a real tangle!

I am refreshed daily when I reflect on the ancient writings of Paul, an ardent follower of Jesus.  He had a simple message, a focussed life and wrote letters to encourage and instruct.  You might not be a follower of Jesus, but you can still receive timeless wisdom from this remarkable ancient writer.  He has a helpful recipe for settling disagreements that I have found incredibly helpful during 33 years of marriage and raising five children into adulthood.

  1. Realize selfishness and pride could be operating in you.  Examine yourself thoroughly.  Most of us would prefer to skip this step. I know I would.
  2. Ask what are my neighbors interests? Truly seek to understand where they are coming from.
  3. What might God want to accomplish in this? In the heat of our emotion, it is hard to see that there might be a larger purpose to our current disagreement. Jesus was 100% right, but He did not hold on to his position. He willingly allowed the bad guys to get the upper hand. We need to seek God’s outcome, not our own.
  4. Allow God’s Spirit to energize you.  He will give you the desire to do the right thing!
  5. BTW, do everything (these steps, and everything else) without: complaining, bickering, and name-calling. This requires self-control. If you feel you are losing self-control, walk away until you can regain it!
  6. Cling to words that bring life.  Find them, share them, repeat them to yourself. Most of use have negative tapes playing in our head. We need a new mind-set to help us rise above our disagreements.

These insights are gleaned from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 2, which you can read from The Voice below.

Do Paul’s words help you when you think of the ways you usually lock horns?

2 If you find any comfort from being in the Anointed, if His love brings you some encouragement, if you experience true companionship with the Spirit, if His tenderness and mercy fill your heart; then, brothers and sisters, 2 here is one thing that wouldcomplete my joy—come together as one in mind and spirit and purpose, sharing in the same love. 3 Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. 4 Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first.

In other words, adopt the mind-set of Jesus the Anointed. Live with His attitude in your hearts. Remember:

6 Though He was in the form of God,
He chose not to cling to equality with God;
7 But He poured Himself out to fill a vessel brand new;
a servant in form
and a man indeed.
The very likeness of humanity,
8 He humbled Himself,
obedient to death—
a merciless death on the cross!
9 So God raised Him up to the highest place
and gave Him the name above all.
10 So when His name is called,
every knee will bow,[a]
in heaven, on earth, and below.
11 And every tongue will confess[b]
“Jesus, the Anointed One, is Lord,”
to the glory of God our Father!

12 So now, my beloved, obey as you have always done, not only when I am with you, but even more so when I can’t be. Continue to work out your salvation, with great fear and trembling, 13 because God is energizing you so that you will desire and do what always pleases Him.

14 Do all things without complaining or bickering with each other, 15 so you will be found innocent and blameless; you are God’s children called to live without a single stain on your reputations among this perverted and crooked generation. Shine like stars across the land. 16 Cling to the word of life so that on the day of judgment when the Anointed One returns I may have reason to rejoice, because it will be plain that I didn’t turn from His mission nor did I work in vain. 17 Even if my lifeblood is to be poured out like wine as a sacrifice of your faith, I have great reason to celebrate with all of you. 18 And for the same reason, you can be glad and celebrate with me.

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