humility

7 Ways to Fight Well

7 Ways to Fight Well

We all have conflict in our lives. Have you ever slammed a door or punched a wall? Have you ever hung up on someone? Have you ever sent off an email or a text with the jab of an angry finger?

We walk through conflict every day: we have disagreements with our spouses, with our parents, with our children, with our co-workers, and with our neighbors. But how do we navigate conflict and come out the other side in one piece? How do we not become the worst version of ourselves in the midst of conflict? What if conflict actually provided an opportunity for us to grow as people, but also to glorify God?

There’s a passage in the Bible that shows just how well conflict can go when we respond out of humility instead of pride.

There’s a massive conflict that is brewing in the early church that has the possibility of destroying the church.

7 Ways to Fight Poorly

7 Ways to Fight Poorly

If you have breath, you are the proud owner of conflict.

It lurks around every corner of our days.

I wake up first in our home. I get dressed and start the coffee. I wake up Angel and our two teenage kids. The other day I kissed my daughter, “good morning, sweetie, it’s time to wake up.” “No, it isn’t!” she responded, pulling her covers over her head. My first whiff of conflict.

I go back downstairs and work on breakfast. At 6:50 everyone is supposed to be gathered around the table. Usually only one of the three is there. I would tell you who, but you know, conflict. It lurks again.

Eventually we are all around the table. We do our family devotions, but now they’re a little compressed and maybe one of the kids isn’t that engaged. Conflict sneaks its head in again.

We’re off to school, but there was a lunch forgotten at home, and so we’re circling back. Now we’re late. Frustration in my heart tells me conflict is all too near.

And now the two slowest drivers in Northwest Tucson have decided to drive side by side in front of me Parcheesi style, five miles below the speed limit. Conflict!

And now I’m pretty sure the lights are in on the conspiracy. One light turns red and there isn’t even anyone at the intersection. Seriously? In 2019, our traffic signals aren’t intelligent enough to catch that? Conflict, code red.

The kids are dropped off and now I’m headed to work. I pull in and head to the fridge to drop off my lunch. Seriously? Has anyone removed his lunch in the past month from this thing? More conflict?!

I look over to the office sink: is this just a holding bay for dirty dishes? Do we not use the cabinet anymore? Conflict!

I haven’t even reached my office door and conflict has reared its ugly head no less than eight times. And I’m not even mentioning the email I saw with the subject line that indicates my first email of the day is going to put my heart in knots.

Sound anything like your day?

How in the world can we navigate all of this conflict? The answer to that question is found in James 1:19, where James says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”

A Laughing Marriage

A Laughing Marriage

Angel and I laugh a lot. We laugh at ourselves. We laugh at each other. We laugh at life.

From time to time our family plays a game at our home where we each try to make up jokes on the spot. Angel’s nonsensical jokes are always the best. “What is faster than a cheetah and reads the Bible?” We prod for answers and then finally give up. “A nun.” The kids erupt in laughter although it doesn’t make any sense.

Outside of spiritual disciplines, I don’t think there is anything more important to the health of our marriage than laughter.  

And I’m not so sure that laughter isn’t spiritual. Here are five reasons I think laughter is a spiritual discipline:

6 Ways a Leader Needs to Respond to a Departing Congregant

6 Ways a Leader Needs to Respond to a Departing Congregant

I sat across the room from the couple, trying to slow down my mind and open my heart to the criticism they were leveling at me. They had been offended by my sermon and had reacted on Facebook, indicating they were leaving the church. I reached out privately and asked if we could meet to talk. They agreed to do so. When we met, he was relatively calm, but she was very upset and I knew that I needed to hold my own emotions in check to be able to listen to the heart of what she was saying and respond in love, not hurt. As I had prayed to prepare for the meeting I genuinely didn’t think I was going to be able to ask for forgiveness for anything as I didn’t think I had done anything wrong. But in the midst of the meeting God opened my heart to see an area of blindness. I was able to ask and receive their forgiveness for the way this blind spot had injured them. I then asked if they would be willing to ask for forgiveness for their slander. They were willing to do so and I forgave them.

These are not the meetings that you think about when you sign up to be a pastor or leader, but there are few moments more important in your ministry than these tense conversations.

Two friends have responded to my series on leaving and finding a church with questions about a pastor’s responsibility in the midst of church departures. It’s a fair and helpful question. Over the course of this series I’ve reflected on a congregant’s responsibility, but pastors and leaders bear a responsibility to help congregants navigate departures well.

4 Questions to Ask When You Church Shop

4 Questions to Ask When You Church Shop

After Angel and I were married, we moved to a town new to both of us: Phoenix. Thus began a several month journey of finding a church that would be repeated again in two and a half years when we moved to New Jersey. I have vivid memories of both church shopping experiences: of the sweet little Anglican church in Phoenix where we were the youngest in attendance by at least four decades and mobbed afterwards by kindly congregants who begged us to stay for coffee and cookies; of the 1,000 square foot church on the Jersey shore where we and our friends doubled the size of the congregation and the accompaniment was played by means of a 1980s style boom box which the pastor turned around to push the button at the beginning and end of every song.

It wasn’t long ago that the idea of having more than one church in your lifetime would have been completely foreign. Virtually the entire world died where they were born and rarely left their hometown.[i] In contrast, the average US citizen today is expected to move 11.4 times in his or her lifetime.[ii] Even if you never leave a church for another reason, you will most likely look for a church ten times in your life.