Christianity

In a world of change – trust God

We are in a season of political change.  We saw the UK begin to change in May with the surprising results of the EU Referendum and we saw this shift again recently when Donald Trump was voted in as President-elect of the United States.  In France, we are seeing political change too, as my home country prepares for its own presidential elections next year.

I am pleased that we live in a democracy and that we each have the ability (and responsibility) to vote, but now we need to consider how we should respond to the outcome of the decisions made.  How can we ensure unity in the church and keep positive relationships when our opinions can be so different?   The same applies to the decisions we’re confronted with on a daily basis.

Choose who you will serve

We must remember firstly, who we serve.  In Joshua 24:15, Joshua commanded the people to, ‘Choose you this day who you will serve’.  He told the people that the choice was up to them, it was their decision, but he ended by saying, ‘As for ME and My house, we will serve the Lord’.   Although as believers we ultimately serve the Lord, He gives us the choice and allows us to decide who we are going to serve.   I believe this is a very intentional verse, it encourages us to make our choice and then have the courage and commitment to stand by what we believe.

Agree to disagree


In life we are confronted by having to make choices on a daily basis and the choices that we make today will affect our tomorrow.

There will always be disagreements among friends and family over the choices we make.  But I believe some of these disagreements could be avoided if we tried to listen more.  Too often in discussion, we are set on persuading the other person to see things as we see them and we do not stop to listen.  If we don’t listen, we won’t hear others’ views.  And who knows, perhaps the opposite side might have a good point to make?   If we all agreed on everything, it would be a very boring world.  It is fine to say, ‘I don’t see it, I don’t understand it, but I respect how you feel’.  For me, my relationships with family and friends are more precious than my argument.

Who should have the final word?

We all like to have the final word, however, the final Word comes from God.

The Bible is God’s divine instruction manual and it tells us how to live our lives according to God’s will.   As I have said before, if we bought a new phone or gadget, we would always read the instruction manual, so that we knew how to operate this new gift in the best possible way.   The same is true of our lives and God’s Word – it tells us all we need to know about how to live a life aligned with God’s plan.

Even if we make wrong choices in life, and create mess through those choices, then our failures are not fatal – provided we are willing to acknowledge them.  God will always be there to help us.

Whatever situation you find yourself in today, and however you are feeling, whether it is fear or excitement, it is important to remember that God has a plan: “A plan to prosper you, not to harm you, a plan to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).


 

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How to deal with conflict

There is a story in Philippians 4 about two women called Euodia and Syntyche, who it seems were quarrelling.   Paul was so concerned about this lack of unity, that he wrote a letter to the wider church in which he pleaded with them to ‘be of the same mind in the Lord’.   Paul wanted to nip it in the bud.

In our lives, conflict is inevitable.  I think sometimes we are afraid of conflict and perhaps we think that as Christians, we shouldn’t ever experience disagreements?   I believe that disagreements are normal and are to be expected – we are all imperfect human beings with our own struggles and agendas.

However, while disagreements and differences of opinion may happen, we must always fight against division.  I believe this is what Paul was trying to deal with in his letter to the church.    Jesus spoke too on the issue of division.  In Mark 3 he warned that ‘if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.’   We must always guard our hearts, ministries and organisations against the poison of division.  It is one of my biggest challenges as a leader, to ensure that disagreements don’t lead to a lack of unity.

If you are dealing with conflict as a leader, or in your ordinary working life, here are a few ways to deal with it.

Are you listening? 

If you are mediating between two people, it is important to listen.  Take time to hear both sides of the story and prayerfully ask God for His wisdom and His solutions.  It can be easy to get caught up in the emotions and forget to listen to what is being said.  When I was a young man, I was very zealous and sometimes I made mistakes in how I communicated. The message of what I was trying to say may have been right, but the way I said it was wrong.   Sometimes I look back now and think, ‘what a wally!’   But thank God, I had wise people around me who made allowances for my youth.  Listening is an incredibly important skill.

Be decisive

If we have to make tough choices or challenge bad behaviour, it is important to be decisive and clear.  In his letter to the church, Paul dealt with the issue publicly and decisively.   It may not  be wise to deal with a matter publicly, but we can be intentional in our decision-making.  If we say we are going to find a solution, we must make sure we follow through and do not dodge the issues.

Ask for help

We have all met people who seem to enjoy disagreements and arguments.  It is true to say that even with the best intentions in the world, God will not override the will of a person who does not want to change.  If the will is there, true reconciliation is always possible, but you might need outside help.  Do not be afraid to ask for help, by calling in a trusted advisor or mediator.  Sometimes a person on the outside can bring clarity and a new perspective to the situation.

Show love

Love is the key thing.  I believe we can deal with almost any situation, if we choose to deal with it in love. This is not always easy – I understand, as I have been there.   But, Christ’s love is the glue which brings true healing and reconciliation in relationships, marriages, churches and organisations.   My role as a leader is to drive the desire for unity.  But I need the Prince of Peace first of all in my life to make sure that I am operating from His agenda, not my own.  When I choose to deal with issues in love, I can still challenge behaviour, but I can do it with grace.

It does not matter how bad the situation is, if there is the will to change and be reconciled, I believe that any issue can be turned around.  With the Holy Spirit in the mix, there is always hope for healing and for unity to be restored.

If you are facing a situation that needs God’s restoration and would like our team to pray for you, please email us at davidlh@ucb.co.uk    We would love to pray for you, so that unity can be restored.