We all have experienced conflict and criticism from someone in our lives. Those ‘someone’s’ could be members of our family, co-workers, friends, spouses, fellow church members and friends, even strangers.
If you are feeling pious, you are only kidding yourself. In reality, all of us have been under this influence at one time or another. Sadly, many of us are under these kinds of stresses, perhaps daily. Many of us feel we are always in the middle or a target of this type of troubled relationship. Even though we don’t enjoy them and say we would give anything to avoid them, believe it or not, we may actually cause them in our lives!
We all know that disagreement is a part of life. We try many ways to avoid it, can’t seem to find a way to remove it, but instead, maybe we should concentrate on ways to deal with it rather than avoid it.
The first step to handling difficulties is pretty standard, find the root cause. The answers are usually not that deep below the surface. Lets look at and think about some possible causes:
Differences of Opinion
This is perhaps the easiest and most common of all because we all have opinions on just about everything. Sometimes the simplest and most minor issue can turn into an ugly argument if not handled correctly. We all know of some dandies we have witnessed or have been in the middle of.
You really have to love this one! Of course, “none of us have ‘thought we heard something different’ than what was really said to us!” Nahh, couldn’t be! But seriously, many a misunderstandings are based upon what we thought we heard and could spawn into deep feelings of betrayal and more, severely separating us from those we love and befriend.
Jealousy, envy and gossip
These three and other reasons like them are an escalation and often a result of poor communication. They are also a result of people willing to believe second or third party information without verifying it for themselves. You see this a lot, especially in larger organizations, like churches and other fraternal groups. This can be devastating to real, truthful relationships, real accountability and real goals and directions of groups and individuals.
Many of us are products of years of abiding convictions and beliefs, some from childhood, years of personal experience, work environments, friends, family, hurt, mistrust and many other reasons seemingly “custom made” for us. They can make many of us appear isolated, elitist and in the case of those who believe themselves to be Christians, “holier than thou.” These convictions, along with jealousy, envy and gossip, can cause setbacks in purpose, direction and personal conviction to those who are trying to live in the secular world, as well as for Christians.
There are many who also endure conflict and criticism daily or have endured much in the past. These circumstances can include deep rooted feelings of unworthiness, abuse, guilt and many more, that may trigger negative reactions, anger, over the top verbal and physical frustrations and defensiveness. All of these can build walls between people and their objectives and issues and even devastate relationships and upset the lives of people close to and around their everyday world. Even well intended Christians, in a misguided effort to appear “more Christian to others,” can make the terrible mistake of repressing other people’s criticism. That is, to act as if nothing has happened, simply ignoring the circumstances, pretending it didn’t really matter or believing it won’t impact the future.
It is important that we recognize the triggers mentioned. Understanding brings about healing and a healthy lifestyle we all deserve. Those around us, whether close or less formal, deserve that too. There is so much to do in our lives and for those we love and meet.
God put us on His Earth to learn, grow, reach out to others and, most importantly, praise Him for the love and grace He has shown us. Pass it on!
Stephen Ministers can make a difference to those experiencing issues involving conflict and criticism in their lives and those around them. If you or someone you know might be experiencing these issues, and perhaps others in their lives, maybe a Stephen Ministers can help.
Stephen ministers are trained to be there, help people one-on-one, free of charge. They see adults on a gender sensitive basis, in a totally confidential, professional environment. They will walk with you with your problems for as long as it takes, and be available 24/7. They are trained to recognize the need for individuals to be referred to other professional health care specialists, if needed. An individual’s position on faith, particular denomination or beliefs, are not a concern or prerequisite of Stephen Ministry care.
If you or someone you know could use a Stephen Minister in their life, call 320-7840 for a confidential appointment. Learn more at stephenminisry.org.
Scherer is a crisis intervention minister and the leader of the local Stephen Ministry.