Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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Pandemic Perspective – Part 49 Being right or being in relationship – Part 2

Proverbs 17:19 – “Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin”

So, what is the antidote to the four horsemen of negative speech? First, I think we need to treat others how you wish to be treated, with care and compassion. Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” When it comes to those closest to you ask yourself, how did you treated them when you first met them and wanted to get to know them, and then treat them that way. When we first met them, we were excited to get to know them and discover their hearts. It’s easy to become complacent and settle for communication that is nothing more than the transfer of information, we are out of milk, the kids have a teacher conference on Tuesday, instead of real heart connection. 

Not only do we need to treat others with dignity and compassion, but we need to be mindful and create a habit of mind. Instead of scanning your environment for negative things about people, scan for the positive things you love about them. As you do don’t just reflect on these positive traits but comment on them. This is what Paul teaches in Philippians 4:8, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Praise and appreciation for others will go a long way and give you more of what you love about them because that is what you are focusing on. What you focus on is what you will see and what will ultimately expand. Sadly many of us are expanding the negative things not the true, and honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.

Create a lasting friendship. In relationships that stay together for the long haul, friendship is an essential part of the equation. When it comes to marriage friendship is the key. I think there are three ingredients to friendship, which are essential in creating intimacy with your partner. These are positive ways of building a healthy relationship. This also works in creating more meaningful relationships with your children and those close to you. The three ingredients to enhance your friendship with those you love are:

1.Enhance love maps

This is merely knowing your partner, their inner thoughts, dreams, needs, their history, their past, their inner world. Know what stresses out your partner, what excites them, what are their hopes, values, and inspirations. When you choose to spend your life with someone, you hand them a map to your inner world. Your inner world is, of course, quite complex including the memories of your past, the details of your present, your hopes for the future. It includes your deepest fears and your grandest dreams. But the map you hand your partner is a pencil sketch. The task for new couples is to intentionally be adding details to that map. It needs scale and direction Over the course of a lifetime, you will be constantly adding landmarks, texture, color. A detailed love map brings perspective to the twists and turns that inevitably enter a marriage. So how do you develop your love map? Ask your partner questions, be interested in them. Remember how you acted during your first couple of dates together. The same is true when it comes to your kids or even others, take a genuine interest in them. Ask questions find out what makes their hearts come alive. 

2. Express fondness and admiration

Communicate respect and affection for your partner in small ways. The people who are masters at relating practice kind words, “Thank you,” “I appreciate you,” “I’m proud of you.” Small words of appreciation can’t just be thoughts they need be spoken so that others hear them. Do you know that people like being appreciated for the small things they do, not just for the every once in a while big things? Are you showing your appreciation for others? Try catching your kids doing things right not just wrong and reward them. 

3. Bids for emotional connection

How often do you ignore something those you love say? We need to stop doing this. When those we care about say something, even the smallest of comments, they are making a bid for connection. Even if it is something like, “look, honey, the squirrel is back in the yard.” That is a bid for connection. If you don’t look up from your phone or laptop or book, you are ignoring their attempt for connection and potentially damaging your relationship. When you ignore the bid, you’re essentially turning away from them when you need to be turning towards them. What direction are you facing when it comes to those you love? Are you doing life face to face or are you just shoulder to shoulder? God gave us others so we could connect and cultivate His greatest treasure relationship. What are you investing in, is it just a career or is it connection our greatest need. 

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Pandemic Perspective – Part 48 Being right or being in relationship – Part 1

Proverbs 17:19 – “Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin”

Have you noticed the increase in relational conflict and how divided we are? I fear we have become a people who value being right over relationships. But being right in a relationship is not the best strategy for connection. It mostly causes arguments, bickering, stonewalling and all negative communication strategies not only waste a lot of time but are not useful for healthy relating. Is it any wonder we have become a lonely culture? More than three in five Americans are lonely, with more and more people reporting feeling like they are left out, poorly understood and lacking companionship, according to a survey released in January 2020. Proverbs 17:1 says “Better a dry crust eaten in peace than a house filled with feasting and conflict. The Bible recognizes that food is an essential need for survive but notice the value it places on peaceful relationships over food! It’s here that scientific studies agree with the Bible because these studies indicate that relationships are what many people count as the most significant part of their lives. It’s not what we have but who we have that matters. That doesn’t mean that we won’t disagree. The reality is that in most cases two people equate to two perspectives. We often see things differently and so we tend to approach them differently. Disagreements between people are normal and can be healthy, but how we go about resolving them matters most. The key is how to disagree without damaging the relationship, which will lead to a lot less arguing. But seeing the other person’s ‘side’ takes maturity, self-awareness, and being OK with not being ‘right.’ For a healthy relationship to grow, we need to focus less on being ‘right’ and instead aim to be understood. We are going to disagree over many different things, but who is right and who is wrong should not be our primary goal. Instead, we need to listen to each other’s thoughts, ideas, and opinions openly. This creates not only a relationship that we will enjoy but also a deep sense of connection and belonging. The need to always be right creates defensiveness, and it’s not only no fun for anyone involved but it’s an exhausting way to live. It replaces connection with competition, the need to win which inevitably leads to sin. So, what is going on when we need to be right? The need to be right all the time reveals childishness and a lack of maturity. Admitting that we make mistakes is part of growing up. Unfortunately, when we don’t grow up as the bible instructs us to do in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things” we feel like admitting that we might not be right will make us feel weak and vulnerable. So, to avoid these negative feelings we have to be right and in doing so we make those around us feel like they are wrong which leads them to feel weak and vulnerable. The very thing we are afraid of feeling we put on others. Because in order for us to be right someone has to feel wrong. If you are getting into arguments that routinely escalate into heated conflict, you may be in a power struggle. People in power struggles fight more and are unable to communicate effectively. Eventually, these struggles lead to contempt and blame. We stop responding and start reacting as we resort to negative communication patterns. In Revelation chapter 6 we read about the four horsemen of the apocalypse, conquest, war, famine, and death who bring destruction to the earth. James 3:6 says we also can bring destruction when our tongue is unbridled, “And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” When it comes to negative communication, I think there are also four horsemen, criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt. Just like the four horsemen of the apocalypse they also bring conquest, war, famine, and death to our relationships. Why are we bringing fighting, famine and ultimately death to our relationships? Because we are making it about me not we. Next time in part 2 we will look at the antidote to the four horsemen. But remember if you want to have a loving relationship especially with those closest to you, stop focusing on being right and focus on the relationship.

No one wants to be with a person who makes them feel invalid and wrong, day in and day out. 

What if instead of fighting with others, whether in person or on social media you chose to fight for them with kindness and compassion.