Linsanity and Peacemaking

I realize that we are a few weeks past the height of “Linsanity” and Jeremy Lin’s remarkable rise to prominence in the NBA with the New York Knicks. But I was blessed to read this week about how the young Mr. Lin put his faith into action in meeting with the headline writer from ESPN who was fired for using racially insensitive language in an article headline about the basketball player. The writer was a Christian as well (and says the langauge was completely unintentional). The two met for lunch, where the writer noted what he appreciated:

“The fact that he reached out to me,” Federico said. “The fact that he took the time to meet with me in his insanely busy schedule. . . . He’s just a wonderful, humble person. He didn’t have to do that. We talked more about matters of faith [and] reconciliation. We talked about our shared Christian values and what we’re both trying do with this situation. . . . We didn’t talk about the headline for more than three minutes.”

Hooray for faith and reconciliation! I wish I knew more about it all, but what a great “non-newsworthy” example of taking the initiative to work something out with a brother who has wronged you. Well done, Mr. Lin.

Here’s the article.



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He who answers before listening — that is his folly and his shame.
—Proverbs 18:13

Waiting patiently while others talk is a key listening skill. Without this skill, you will often fail to understand the root cause of a conflict, and you may complicate matters with inappropriate reactions.

Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 166.

Food for Thought

How often are you thinking about what you’re going to say while the other person is finishing what they’re saying?

This is a hard one, right? But a little bit of discipline can go a long way in the listening department. One suggestion Ken makes is learning to be comfortable with silence. For example, the next time you jump in your car to go somewhere, resist the urge to turn on the radio. Roll down the window (unless it’s winter!) and drive in silence. Whether it’s two blocks or twenty-seven miles, drive in silence.

Silence… it’s not the absence of sound, but the absence of noise. Take the noise away and you’ll be amazed at what you can hear. It might be the song of mockingbirds. Or maybe the heart of a significant matter.

Ways To Receive Criticism

Over at The Blazing Center, Mark Altrogge just kicked off a series on receiving criticism that I plan on keeping an eye on. In his first part, he talks about how it doesn’t feel good to get criticized but that it’s good for our Christian growth:

David actually prayed for God to people to correct him.

Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head;
let my head not refuse it. (Psalm 141:5)

I don’t remember the last time I asked God to send people to rebuke me.  But if David prayed for it, it must be good.

Altrogge then recommends 5 ways for us to be better recievers of rebuke. I’ve listed them here but you can read the whole description over at the blog.

-If it comes from a believer, view it as a kindness .

–Make it easy for people to bring stuff to you.–Remember you’re a sinner. 

There’s almost always some truth in every criticism, even if it’s inaccurate or given poorly.

– Don’t be wise in your own eyes.

As one who doesn’t much like getting criticism, I found the post helpful, especially when combined with the lessons in The Cross and Criticism by Alfred Poirier.

Please Break This Rule

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When our wrongs are too obvious to ignore, we practice what I call the 40/60 Rule. It goes something like this: “Well, I know I’m not perfect, and I admit I am partially to blame for this problem. I’d say that about 40 percent of the fault is mine. That means 60 percent of the fault is hers. Since she is 20 percent more to blame than I am, she should be the one to ask for forgiveness.” I never actually say or think these exact words, but I often catch myself resorting to this tactic in subtle ways. By believing that my sins have been more than cancelled by another’s sins, I can divert attention from myself and avoid repentance and confession.

Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 120.

Food for Thought

Jesus tells the perfect “40/60 Rule” story in Luke 18:10-14. In this passage, Luke says that Jesus addresses the story to those “who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else.” This is the story:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Next time you’re tempted to invoke the 40/60 Rule to minimize your part in a conflict, remember that few subjects raise more disdain in Jesus than moderated mercy or a “righteousness ranking” where we give ourselves an unequivocal first place vote.

Message at Clarus: TGC Albuquerque

Two weeks ago Rick Friesen, Director of Ministry Relations, led a workshop at The Gospel Coalition‘s event in Albuquerque. Tim Bradley has a good synopsis of the talk over at the Desert Springs Church blog.

“Rick asks, ‘How does the gospel make a difference in our relationships?’ … How does it transform our conflict from a moment of self-focused idolatry into an opportunity for God-exalting grace and love? First, remember who God is. Remember His benevolent, merciful, saving grace in your life. Remember you are His child and ambassador. “

Hop on over to read the rest or to listen to the audio of the talk.


Oh, Be Careful Little Mouth

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Even a fool is thought wise…and discerning if he holds his tongue.”
Proverbs 17:28

Reckless words, spoken hastily and without thinking, inflame many conflicts. “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov. 12:18; cf. Prov. 13:3; 17:28; 21:23; 29:20). Although we may seldom set out deliberately to hurt others with our words, sometimes we do not make much of an effort not to hurt others. We simply say what comes to mind without thinking about the consequences. In the process, we may hurt and offend others, which only aggravates conflict.

Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 121.

Food for Thought

What have you said recently without thinking?

The word “reckless” usually conjures up images of someone driving a car with no concern for the people around them. A reckless driver can cause havoc on the highway, putting his or her life, as well as the lives of others, in harm’s way. If we spot someone driving recklessly, we usually find a cell phone and alert the police. But what about someone speaking recklessly?

Simply saying what comes to mind can be looked upon as being authentic and honest. People admire the plain-speak quality and often promote folks who can do it. But it can also be looked upon as not thinking, or reckless. The lives of the one speaking and those hearing then are caught in harm’s way. And if you’re caught in harm’s way, the result is usually some kind of harm. Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.

A Picture of Trust

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“Therefore we do not lose heart.” 2 Cor. 4:16

Trusting God proved to be the pattern in Paul’s life. Even when the Lord did not immediately relieve his sufferings, Paul continued to view everything that happened to him as God’s sovereign will (2 Cor. 4:17-18). This doesn’t mean that Paul never had doubts or that he never asked God to relieve his suffering (2 Cor. 12:7-8). But when the Lord’s response did not match Paul’s request, he was willing to believe that God had something better in mind (vv. 9-10).

Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 67.

Food for Thought

Think of the last time the Lord’s response did not match your request.

What does trusting God look like? Ken reminds us that it doesn’t mean wearing a painted on smile when troubles come and practicing the art of denial when doubts arise. Those verses in 2 Cor. 12 show the apostle Paul “pleading” for God to take the thorn in his flesh away. So, then what does trusting God look like? “But when the Lord’s response did not match Paul’s request, he was”–what’s that next word? That’s right–“willing.”

Trusting looks like a willingness to believe in God’s goodness toward us in the middle of pleadings and tears and sufferings and doubts and questions. Trusting is choosing to believe that God desires the best for us, his children. That’s not always easy, but as Paul would attest, it’s always worth it!

Forgiveness and Your Ministry

Paul Trip wrote a great post over at The Gospel Coalition blog all about the need for pastors to pursue a culture of forgiveness in their ministry. Pastors (and anyone serving Christ) have a choice:

You can choose for disappointment to become distance, for affection to become dislike, and for a ministry partnership to morph into a search for an escape. You can taste the sad harvest of relational détente that so many church staffs live in, or you can plant better seeds and celebrate a much better harvest. The harvest of forgiveness, rooted in God’s forgiveness of you, is the kind of ministry relationship everyone wants.

Then he describes three ways forgiveness can shape your ministry. I’ve listed them, but you can read how he explains them in detail.

1. Forgiveness stimulates appreciation and affection.
2. Forgiveness produces patience.
3. Forgiveness is the fertile soil in which unity in relationships grows.

He closes with this exhortation:

So we learn to make war, but no longer with one another. Together we battle the one Enemy who is after us and our ministries. As we do this, we all become thankful that grace has freed us from the war with one another that we used to be so good at making.