Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Simple Action Can Soothe The Pain of Conflict

Have you ever felt like you were in a conflict that you couldn't win or resolve?  Perhaps it's with our boss, kids, spouse, friend, neighbor. We can't seem to make them understand or don't see any reason behind why they treated us the way they did.

Or perhaps our conflict was with life. Why couldn't things have worked out for me the way they did for my friend? Why does trouble seem to follow me or our family?

Maybe we've been tugging against God Himself. Good luck with that by the way but I've done it too. We wonder why God seems to have allowed bad things to happen -  we lose our job, struggle financially or can't work things out so we can and be happy and content for a while.

So what do we do?  Often we pull harder so to speak. We get more angry, try more logic or become even more demanding that others change and come through for us. And while things and people don't change we do. We become bitter and hard to live with most of the time. Our health can suffer and life simply isn't fun anymore.

I have a suggestion. If you were in a real tug-of-war that you didn't want to engage in, you could stop it quickly, right?  Just drop your end of the rope. The other person or persons can keep pulling until Jesus comes back but you're not in the contest.

Well, we can do the same when we're in an emotional contest with someone. We can drop the rope there too. How?

Lots of ways. One is to change your responses. That means that you quit arguing, shut down your end of a conversation or agree to disagree. You don't have to keep going in the conflict.

Some will feel like this is giving in but it's not. We can let someone else win. We can let them at least think they've won, believe they are smarter or whatever.  We know better but we also accept that they don't need to understand us or what we're doing. Let them deal with the conflict if they want.

A second option is to not demand anymore. Do not demand that the othe person change or agree with you. Don't demand that you look good. Don't require that they like you. There are times when even those we love might not connect with us for a time. They will likely get over it and so will you. High expectations are often the cause for why we feel like we must prevail in conflict.

Third, use language that frees you.  For example get comfortable with phrases like, "I guess we're going to have to disagree,"  or "Tell me more about that," or "I'm sorry that we can't be on the same page on this but it's OK."

Sometimes we literally have to hear ourselves say that we're not going to engage, try to win or let another person's actions ruin our day, week or month.

Yes, conflict is inevitable in marriages, family and life in general. But it doesn't have to own us or rule the day. Just learn to drop the rope.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Risk and Change: You Can't Grow Without Them

I'm leaving my current job. We'll move eleven hundred miles or so in five or six weeks to another town and new ministry. We'll have to develope new relationships, find different doctors, dentists and hairstylists and make a different house a home.

Sure, we've done this before but not often. It would be so much easier to stay in a place we like with people we know well and where we were pretty comfortable all around. Because you see this step in our life will require more risk and change. And for some people risk and change are typically avoided.

And to be honest we aren't going to like all of it but we've learned it's necessary and actually helpful. You won't grow if you won't risk anything. You won't mature and get stronger if you're unwilling to change. And as a Christ follower you don't get to depend on God as much and see Him at His best and greatest.

Of course, there can be too much risk or too much change.  Too much risk is usually disguised foolishness. Too much change generally leads to unhealthy chaos often hurting relationships in major ways.

But staying put all the time, never risking the new and scary makes for a like with little real excitement and fulfillment.

How to know you might be holding back from change and risk and not growing as a result?

Examine your life. Have you been in the same house, job, hobbies and habits for decades? Have you been confronted with opportunities to do something different or live somewhere else and you've turned each one down without a grain of thought?

Are you feeling rather bored and unfulfilled?  Sameness has a way of producing boredom.  Never trying anything new can lead to wonder about your purposes here.

Let me suggest a place to start.  First, if you're married, get away with your spouse and simply talk about your bucket list, things you've always wanted to do but never have. That will likely lead to some first steps, fun ideas or even radicaly, potential changes that are very doable and exciting.

Second, pray. Ask God to help you consider some new work, ministry, serving opportunity that would stretch you. There might be things right in front of you in your church or community that would light your personal fire and give you an opportunity to trust God through some risk-taking and change. Seek forgiveness, too, for just staying put so long and living for comfort rather than commitment to Him.

Third, do one thing to get out of your comfort zone. Don't rest until you've started that new thing.  Do some research, begin planning and talking to people about your ideas.  And if you're a parent get your kids involved. Let them learn with you about trusting God, trying new things and not living the way everyone else lives.

Think about the many special things we enjoy in our society that we would never have if someone wasn't willing to take a risk and change. Chances are you're missing out on some of your home in your home and life. Get going now.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Happy and Faithful Are Boring, But The Best

I read an article that interviewed an actor whose character was just written out of the show during the season's latest episode. And as part of one of his answers to why they couldn't always make his character happy he responded essentially saying that "happy doesn't make for good drama."

And he's right. Happy is way more boring for television or a good movie than action, struggle, manipulation and revenge. An intruiging story will most often have a protagonist, antagonist, numerous plot high points and low points and a host of surprises. That's why many Christian movies aren't very good - they don't tell interesting stories because they try to make everything always work out fine. But in reality it does not.

Newspapers, sitcoms and the latest films rarely focus on people who stay the course, are naturally happy and stay faithful to their spouse, other family and friends. They're boring. Who wants to hear about that?

Who wants to know more about the person who simply loves God for decade after decade but never makes a headline for some horrible mistake or a huge endeavor? Who wants to hear about the single mom who year after year works hard outside her home, then comes home to work until the kids are in bed only to do it again the next day and the next?

Who wants to read about the dad or mom who worked steady, average jobs all their lives so their son and daughter could both go to the college they never went to?  Not many. But I do because that was my mom and dad.

You see happy and faithful don't necessarily make great drama but they produce rich marriages and family. And when I talk about happy I don't mean some syrupy, never-real, never-honest kind of relating. No, I mean that people have something deep within them that truly satisfies and fulfills, not just getting more, succeeding more or partying more.

And faithfulness to God and to each other doesn't necessarily mean some sort of drab, no fun kind of existence. It's commitment that lasts and love that overcomes even the toughest challenges. There are lots of things that are boring which have to be done over and over for a long time that have worthwhile results. Scales on the piano, thousands of golf swings, a language practiced and math tables memorized.

What are the members of your family learning and committed to do that may be a little boring now but that last for a lifetime?  Make sure your home includes some of those and that you remind each other that being boring isn't always so bad.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.