It happens. Church members get angry with each other. When we do, though, here are some steps to address the situation:
- Pray before you act. Prayer has a way of softening our heart, and it requires us to focus our attention toward God and away from our issues. Further, just taking the time to pray grants us time to think before we act.
- Ask God to show you if you've been wrong anywhere in the situation. You may not have been, but it's always good to ask the Lord. Most of us have a hard time reading our own hearts or admitting our own wrongs, but none of us is without fault.
- Check your facts. Sometimes we get mad at people because of what we've heard and think we know, but we react before we know the whole situation. I can certainly (and regretfully) remember times when I've spoken without sufficient knowledge.
- Consider the reality that the person may be dealing with stuff you don't know about. It could be that he or she is facing unspoken trouble that's deep and carrying burdens that are weighty. His or her negative encounter with you may be the overflow of some other heavy pain.
- Beware of the idolatry of bitterness. When we hold on to our anger and refuse to give it up, we make that anger an idol. We give that emotion power over us and then find ourselves caught in sin's net, too. Don't give the devil that foothold.
- Confront the person as needed, but do it in love. A primary goal of Christian confrontation ought to be repentance and reconciliation. That process often takes a while, and it might require others to get involved—but it shows the power of the gospel when it's successful.
- Pray with the other person. If the other person's open to this step, God often just does something when two people bow their heads and seek His face.
What other steps have helped you?
Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is team leader for theological education strategists for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
For the original article, visit chucklawless.com.
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