Who enjoys conflict? Very few Christians do. When conflict happens, you may wonder what is causing the disagreements and bad feelings. Maybe you are stumped as to how to achieve resolution. This series of articles is dedicated to all the dear servants of Christ who have encountered difficult people in their ministries. I have often thought that there might be some type of special recognition, among the rewards Jesus will bestow when his Kingdom comes in its fullness. Maybe Christ will award some sort of ‘purple heart” to servants who have been wounded in the line of duty. Whether this is the case or not, Hebrews 4:13 promises that nothing will remain hidden. God knows all and will not fail to deal with every deed: good or evil.
The truth is that most interpersonal problems in churches result from misunderstanding. You can solve such problems by cutting other people some slack, talking things out and affirming one another ‘s faith. However, there are those problems which are not caused by simple miscommunication. So, let me list a few basic categories of folks who typically cause confusion and hurt within the body of Christ. Before I do so, I must acknowledge that this list is an oversimplification of reality. However, its value lies in this very oversimplification. Understanding some basic dynamics of how people get hurt can help Christ’s servants cope when they find themselves in the crossfire of controversy. This first article will look at the clueless Christian.
The Clueless Christian
Bless their hearts, there are those people who are not fully aware of the feelings of those around them. They may be clueless that their words and actions are having a negative effect on people or hindering Christ’s work. Because of this, they often find themselves unintentionally offending the people they worship with. They may be quite surprised at the reaction they receive. People who have known these folks for awhile may often say things like, “Oh, that’s just the way he is.”, or “She doesn’t mean any harm.” The best way to cope with such people is to develop a tough skin to their insensitive behavior.
At the same time, you should consider your role in making them aware of how their behavior affects others. Proverbs 12:15 provides some guidance when it says, “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” You will soon know which type of person you are dealing with if you fairly and lovingly approach the person with how their words and actions are perceived. It may be that you can help them realize what is happening and alter their way of dealing with people. If offending behavior continues, the person may need to be given opportunities to serve in ways that will minimize the damage they cause
In other posts, we will look at mean people, agenda-driven people, divisive people, and others who cause conflict.
Michael Bogart, EdD