Here are a few strategies to help you and I restore or at least redefine our strained relationships. Most people are weak when it comes to reconciling with another person. Most people are strong when it comes to ignoring problems in relationships. As a result, friendships take a nose dive, churches split, and marriages and families suffer. So what can we do to overcome this?
1.Reconciling with another person over an offense doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship will continue as if the offense never happened; this may be too high of an expectation too soon. New boundaries or different expectations may be necessary to give the relationship a chance to really recover. Think of a new context where the relationship has a better chance of healing.
2.Righteous anger is for God to express. You and I are not God. I doubt Jesus let the sun go down on his anger towards the moneychangers (John 2). I don’t see Jesus all embittered and resentful in ministry; do you? He was not bound by his anger the next morning or the morning thereafter. Believers who keep pounding the righteous indignation drum eventually diminish their potential to bring about change in other people’s hearts. Worse yet, they can hinder transformation in the future. Be careful that your expectations of people, who don’t know any better, aren’t too high. You were there once, and you too lacked the capacity to think the way you do now. Let’s not forget that.
3.Forgiveness has a “for” as a prefix just like foreknowledge and forecast. The point is this; we should expect to be wronged and hurt and missed and betrayed before it ever happens. Why are we so surprised when a potential offense takes place? Aren’t we all humans still being worked on by God? ‘Fore-giveness’ is something decided well in advance of a wrong, not just after. Jesus died for you and me two centuries in advance. Prepare to ‘fore-give’ today before a wrong is committed. Be proactive in grace, not reactive in judgment.
Sometimes I think we avoid confrontation because we don’t have a plan or we don’t know what to say. Here is a good strategy for settling an issue with another. (C.F.P.).
1.CONFESS: Sit down with someone, look them in the eye and confess. If you feel awkward, you are probably doing the right thing. Take ownership of your wrong and express only your wrong. Own only your wrong and the inappropriate manner in which it took place. Own your omission, callousness, anger, or indifference. To confess is to verbally agree with God and, in this case, share that confession with another. By confessing appropriately, you model to the other how they too can confess. Be big enough to make yourself small enough to reconcile. Meekness is “power under control”.
2.Ask for FORGIVENESS: Ask for the other person’s forgiveness knowing that the earnestness and thoroughness of your confession is all you can control. You may or you may not receive forgiveness from the other, and this is above your pay grade.
3.REPENT: This is most often left out and it is so important. Earnestly commit to overcome the temptation to commit the same offense again. Even more so, commit to an alternative direction totally contrary to your blunder. Consider asking the person you hurt for help in doing so. Turn an adversary into a helper or ally whenever appropriate. Sometimes a person’s forgiveness is just rhetoric. An earnest confession coupled with earnest repentance provides a greater likelihood of freedom and true forgiveness.
“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).
Here is something to remember: When we point out the speck of sawdust in another’s eye and fail to notice the huge, pressure-treated, 2×10 lumber in our own eye, we fail to realize that each came from the same tree. Get freed up today by confessing, asking for forgiveness and repenting on a vertical and horizontal plane. Wake up tomorrow free to meet the day and the likelihood that someone may get on your nerves and you on theirs.
Dr. Gary Hewins is the President of lifepoints.org, a coaching and consulting ministry to ministry leaders and preachers and the Senior Pastor of Community Bible Church in the picturesque mountains of Highlands, N.C.