Like most cultural changes, I am sure it hasn’t escaped your attention that people prefer texting to talking, email over handwritten notes and tossing someone a gift card as opposed to a heartfelt, personal gift. Is anyone else worried that we are rapidly losing our human connection? It seems that the more we take advantage of these modern conveniences, the more desensitized we become.
Face to face conversations have been replaced with face to screen time. I myself have been guilty of addressing issues with my husband via text because I didn’t want to deal with it in person. I convinced myself I was saving us an argument by typing out my feelings because then I could edit what I said. But that’s unhealthy and it certainly isn’t biblical.
What about when people take their conflicts to social media for all the world to see? What exactly could you hope to gain by belittling one another in an open forum that allows others to jump into a conflict that’s not their own? What I find amusing is that most of what people say online are things they wouldn’t dare say in person. Just because you are letting your fingers do the talking doesn’t make your words less offensive. You are still held accountable for what you say, whether you say it with your lips or your rapid firing fingertips as they fly across the keys.
How are we to handle conflict when it does arise, and it certainly will in healthy relationships? My advice would be to turn to the words of Matthew 18: (please keep in my mind this is referring to our relationships with fellow believers)
“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.” (verse 15)
Our initial reaction when someone hurts us is to tell someone else about it, then we can have someone validate our feelings & “take our side” in the conflict. However, our first response should be to speak to the one who upset us. When we go directly to the offender, chances are we will be able to quickly resolve our differences without need for a mediator because most people respect others who are able to communicate honestly.
What happens when you try the direct approach and it isn’t received too graciously?
“But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.” (verse 16)
Note that it doesn’t say rally the troops and turn it into “he said, she said” debate. If you find yourself in the midst of an argument where one-on-one communication is no longer effective or constructive, it may be a good idea to seek godly counsel. Agree on a neutral party who can speak wisdom into the situation without taking sides. It may be someone from your pastoral staff, a friend whom you both respect or in some cases you may need to seek counsel from a professional. The point is, if you are unable to hash out your grievances amongst yourselves, the next avenue needs to be seeking wise counsel, not ranting to anyone and everyone who will listen to build your case.
As you go through your day, if you find yourself tempted to ‘post’ about your problems, try this approach first. Don’t succumb to the pull of social media to do your dirty work for you. Human contact will always trump social media. You will choose your words more wisely in person than you would sitting behind the safety of an illuminated screen. And the person who has your panties in a twist will respond more rationally if you are “man enough” to speak to them as opposed to about them.