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When Conflict Threatens Friendship

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
When Christian friends experience conflict they must take steps to resolve their differences.


Family Counseling Ministries -

In this 1st article of a three-part series, Dr. Don Dunlap relates the story of two women who, although they have been close friends for years, come to an impasse and ultimately refuse even to greet one another socially. They agree to come for counseling and after filling out a self-evaluation checklist, they repent and reconcile with each other. Dr. Dunlap examines how unresolved conflict with our friends hinders our Christian testimonies, and adversely affects the lives of others.

Linda and Katherine were faithful members of a church that I pastored several years ago. They had been close friends for many years and they demonstrated a deep love for the Lord. The younger women in the church looked to them for guidance and wise counsel.

Katherine accused Linda of gossiping about her to another church member.

Linda and Katherine encouraged and affirmed each other’s strong leadership capabilities, but they each had very definite ideas about how things should be done. They reached an impasse one day concerning how to most effectively conduct a women’s weekly prayer meeting.

Their disagreement rapidly grew into a serious misunderstanding. Linda had privately asked one of the younger women in the group for her opinion in the matter, and Katherine became convinced that Linda had gossiped about her. Linda defensively countered that Katherine was suspiciously jumping to conclusions and falsely accusing her.

 

Within a matter of days, these two spiritually mature Christian women were avoiding one another and even stubbornly refusing to greet each other at church. Their conflict adversely affected many people in the congregation.

 

The two women could not resolve their dispute and they were harming their Christian testimony.

A third woman in the church went to them and appealed to them to settle the problem between themselves, but neither woman was willing to take the first step. They both agreed, however, to meet with me to seek a resolution to their disagreement.

 

When they arrived for the meeting, I asked them if they would be willing to fill out a short “yes/no” checklist before we began discussing the issue. They said that they would, and they proceeded to answer the following questions:

1.      Do I genuinely love the other person involved in this situation? Yes/No

2.      Have I demonstrated an ungrateful spirit for the things that this person has done for me and for others? Yes/No

3.      Am I willing to lay down my life as a servant for this person? Yes/No

4.      Do I have an independent spirit, wanting my own way?   Yes/No

5.      Is there any bitterness in my heart that results from unforgiveness? Yes/No

6.      Have I acted in an impatient and frustrated manner? Yes/No

7.      Have I exhibited a condemning spirit? Yes/No

8.      Am I willing to have my own blind spots pointed out? Yes/No

9.      Am I responsible for any wrongin this situation? Yes/No

10.  Have I demonstrated the humility of Jesus Christ in this matter? Yes/No

After Linda and Katherine gave me their answers, I led in prayer, inviting the Holy Spirit to do a work of conviction and healing in their lives and in their friendship. Then I read 1 Peter 4:8-10,

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

I cautioned them that their behavior was hindering their testimony for Christ and their actions were negatively impacting other people. I suggested that we examine the biblical truths regarding not judging one another. They agreed that it would be profitable for us to review the pertinent Scripture verses together.

 






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