In the midst of a meeting, I remembered the raised voices and the anger that was shot towards me. I was a bit surprised, after all, these leaders were chosen because they exemplified godliness. In that moment though, fury was on display. At issue was the purchase of several tables and as treasurer, I paid th bill. I did not have authority to approve nor question the expenditures, but only to pay what was sent to me, so that’s what I did. It seemed that this particularly request was never approved though, and so a sharp division erupted over what amounted to a few hundred dollars. Those moments of anger sowed the tone for a contentious three years and caused some relationships to permanently deteriorate.
The end result hardly justifies how the situation was handled, especially as Christians. We should be disturbed at how quickly people are willing to throw away relationships that take years of cultivation, over what often amounts to nothing more than a misunderstanding. In watching people unravel, the outcome, in this case, didn’t match At and it is sad to think that something that the Lord was using to build up the church could be turned into a tool of destruction. From that came a very important lesson for me: we must always side with grace (I’ll be the first to tell you, yes, I learned that lesson but it does not mean that I always first react that way; I’m still growing).
That a few mere tables could destroy relationships is appalling, but the circumstance is a clear demonstration of the four characteristics of a poorly handled situation:
- Man’s glory
- Prideful intensity
- Lack of control
- Lack of love
Previously, I addressed these four points in an article that you can read by clicking here. Circumstances that exhibit these behaviors are almost certain to end badly.
In contrast to the four characteristics prevalent in poorly handled circumstances, there are four traits that directly oppose those that blend together to create a more positive experience. Consider the following:
- God’s Glory: A situation that is rightly-handled will always be aimed towards God’s glory. This motivation causes those involved to see God’s truth as sufficient, consulting it as a guide, and putting it into practice. Even more, those oriented towards God’s glory are not motivated by personal ambition but only that other’s relationship with God may be strengthened.
- Humble Activity: Instead of a rashly pursuing the elevation of one’s self, a rightly-handled conversation will be characterized by a genuine humility. Humility (related to love, which we’ll see in a bit) dictates the actions one will take. Even if it is detrimental to one’s self, humility will seek both the best interests of God and the best interests of others involved.
- Profusion of Control: Additionally, there is an exhibition of control. Specifically, there will be an infusion of patience. In the previous article, I shared how impatience comes about in those mishandled moments, usually because we expect change now. But transformation takes time, as the Holy Spirit moves. Therefore, a rightly-handled situation must have a level of patience as we deal with one another.
- Abundance of Love: Finally, love is the core of all circumstances. First a love of God, and second a love of others. Love in truth establishes the base for all other things that flow out as we maneuver through the tough situations of life. The same is true here. A love of God immediately places God’s glory at the center of what we do. A love for God generates the love of others, which motivates both an active willingness to control ourselves and a genuine humility with those we are working with.
The inclusion of these four qualities does not guarantee a situation was rightly-handled. However, one cannot have a situation handled-rightly without all of these being present.
I love the Apostle Paul’s interactions with people. He was never afraid to share the truth, and at times he could be very straightforward. Consider his relationship with the Corinthians. Yet, he always demonstrated these characteristics in how he interacted with people. Paul clearly loved the Lord and loved those he was working with. His letters are filled with reminders that he writes the truth to experience the joy with them when they have an intimate relationship with the Lord.
Remember those tables I mentioned earlier, the ones that caused so much strife? Turns out, a new member desired to bless the church by purchasing them as a gift, so the church had ordered them, and the family was going reimburse the church. The few people who knew had not yet communicated that to everyone else. Sadly, no apologies were made, and it became a topic that was often brought up as a sore spot. I am sure each of us has a story or a million of them. It never needed to be that way, and rarely do the confrontations of the day need to be as severe as they are. Why then, do we more often permit poorly-handled situations instead of God-glorifying ones and what’s the first step to change that?
Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash