Stress from Conflict

By Mike Mazzalongo Topic: General Topics Posted: Sat. Feb 7th 2009
Mike talks about the conflict that happens in the church.
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Somebody does or says something to hurt me or worst still, someone says or does something to hurt my family. Or perhaps someone at work needs to be talked to your supervisor or something and your, your boss says you're really Joe, you know? Yeah, we got to get rid of Joe. And it's your job to get rid of jail. Is that, is there anything more stressful than to be in that kind of conflicting situation? Well, I worked at Oklahoma Christian for three years. My entire job dealt with stress with conflict because part of my job was as dean of students, uh, to deal with all the discipline issues of the school. So for boy or young man or young woman got into trouble and they said, you've got to go see the dean. I was the dean that they had to go see. And so I had to continually deal with the students and especially the angry parents. Trust me, dealing with the students was nothing compared to dealing with the parents of the students over conflict issues. So I know what conflict is like. And I certainly know the stress that comes from conflict. Some of the things that you go through when you are in conflict. Uh,

I was thinking about this, you know, one of the things that happen when you go through conflict while you talk to yourself a lot, it knows that you've taught yourself a lot. You, you kind of rehearse what you're going to say. Right? Wow. And I went in. When it gets here, I'm going to say this and then if he says that I'm going to say this, you know, you Kinda, you kinda do a little scenario of what is going to happen many times you feel unbalanced, you're okay for awhile, and then you think of what happened here or you're mad all over again. You're stressed out all over again. Right? You just keep going in and out. I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm okay. And then you, you know, you lose it. One of the symptoms of stress caused by conflict of course, headaches. I can't sleep at night. Irritability, loss of concentration. All you can do is think about the conflict, focusing on what you need to be doing. You keep thinking about this other thing here and of course you think of the dumb things that you said or did while you were in conflict with that person and now you're wondering how to undo all that stuff and that causes a lot of stress in your life. And I say this often, personal experience because like you, I've been in conflict, set them things, done silly things on, so forth and suffered the stress related symptoms that come with it.

Well, whatever your feelings while you were getting through conflict, one thing's for sure conflict produces stress and a lot of stress and this lesson I'd like to talk about the stress caused by conflict but in the context of the conflict that we experienced in the church. Okay. Hopefully some of the things that we're going to learn in tonight's lesson, we can apply to a lot of different lessons, but I want to talk about the conflict that happens in the church now since I've become a Christian. I would say that most of the conflict situations that I have had has been with members of the church right now. Not The way it works. Cause eventually most of the people you know are people in the church or you have conflict with them. And this is natural. We live in a closely knit community and we try to keep our contact level with our brothers and sisters fairly high.

You know, we have care groups, worship services, things like that. So we see each other a lot. It's natural that we're going to be in conflict with one another now, conflicts in church or not just stressful. They're very stressed because we can't always run away. Yeah, you'd go to the seven 11 and the clerk, you know, insults you or something. You're in conflict. There's a lot of seven 11 you know, you're so you'd go to the star mark or wherever you know and get your MILCON whenever else you buy there. But in church, these are people you're related to. You see them very often. And on top of this, there's pressure on us as Christians to resolve the conflict after all. It's part of our religion to solve conflict and to resend to resolve it and this creates even more stress because confrontation about conflict causes, let me say this again.

The confrontation about the conflict that we have had causes more stress than the conflict. Get in the first place in First Corinthians chapter three verses one to 23 Paul reviews a series of conflicts in the Corinthian church and he offers Christians guidelines in how to deal with conflict. Now the currency scenes of course were Greeks, they were gentile converts and they did not have the Jewish background as the Jewish religious background that the Jews had. Therefore they lack the kind of stability and ethical background with the juice it so they have a lot of problems solving their conflict. We're going to do a brief study of of this passage and then at the end and going to try to give us some basic rules on how to deal, excuse me, how to deal with conflict. So let's look at first Corinthians chapter three which is going to be a little textual study and then we'll get into some practical applications.

Chapter three says, and I, brethren could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to none of the flesh as two Babes in Christ, I gave you milk to drink, not solid food for you are not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you're not get able for you are still fleshly for since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and are you not walking like mere men for one one says, I am of Paul and another says, I am of Apollos. Are you not near man? In this passage, Paul summarizes the problem in Corinth right away in this passage, there seems to be a conflict in the church of their worldliness there. Fleshliness people are creating division and they're taking sides and they're appointing leaders. I'm appalled. I'm of a policy and even though they have the spirit of God because they're Christians, they're acting like people who do not have the spirit.

Paul says, you're acting like mere men. When he says that, he means like non Christians. Now the Corinthian stopped that. They were very spiritual because they had gifts. You know, chapters 1213 and 14 talking about all the spiritual gifts that the Corinthians had, but their conflict shows that they were really in the two. In verse five he continues. He continues to say what then is a powerless and what is Paul servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor, for we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building.

And so Paul refers to the leaders that they claim to follow in their self inflicted division and he shows that they are all servants of the same master doing different tasks, but for the same purpose. He's saying, Hey, wait a minute, a palace and Paul and Peter were, we're not one on top of the other. We're all the same. We're all doing the same job here. Don't do that to us. He continues to tell them. In verse 10 according to the grace of God, which was given to me as a wise master builder, I laid a foundation and another is building upon it. Let each man be careful how he builds upon it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now, if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, Hay, Straw, each man's work will become evident for the day.

We'll show it because it is to be revealed with fire and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built upon remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved yet so as through fire. Here Paul the Apostle describes the church as a structure and those like a policy on himself as workers whose task it is to build that structure and he says there's no competition here. Nearly cooperation to achieve the same objective, each with his own skill. Each person is working alongside each other to build up this field. Now he tells them that their work will be tested. The idea of fire means testing, and this is a reference to the Corinthians, not the workers. You know, don't get the idea.

It's not call. It's going to be tested. It's not a that's going to be tested. It's the church that's got the Corinthians are going to be tested. This structure is going to be tested. Now, Paul and Apollos have already built on the right foundation. He says that they built on the foundation of Christ, so there without reproach, but the building itself, the Corinthians, they're going to be tested to see if they stand. You know what's what's happening here? He's warning them. This is elect a little, you know, implicit little warning here. He says, guys, we've done a good job. We laid a foundation. We built it according to Spec, but this is going to be tested. You are going to be test. You need to be careful. In verse 16 he says, do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the spirit of God dwells in you?

If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him or the Temple of God is holy and that is what you are. Now Paul goes in an even more direct way warning them who are causing problems. He says, look, the structure is not just any structure but it's a holy Temple of God to destroy. It will be punishable by God actually to destroy if he says is to destroy yourself. So he says, look, we've built a good structure here but you people with your division and with your arguing and with your conflict, you're tearing it apart in verse 18 that's why he says, you know the builders will be spared. They said, we get a good job. We laid it out properly. If the building falls apart it's because you people have taken it apart through your division and arguing and he goes on in verse 18 and he finishes off by saying let no man deceive himself.

If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let it become foolish that he may become wise for the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God for it is written. He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness and again, the Lord knows the reasonings of the wise that they are useless, so then let no one boast in men for all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or CFUs or the world or life or death or things present or things to come. All things belong to you and you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God. You see, the problem in Korea was that they had an improper view of wisdom. They saw wisdom as worldly wisdom. They sought as philosophy. Their style was to debate the Greeks. In those days their style was to debate one philosophy against another.

K One teacher would get up and like congress, you know, one guy would get up and pound away his idea and another guy would get up and pound away on his ideas. That's what was going on in the church here. They were looking at the Gospel as just another philosophy to argue about it and they were picking teachers. You have to defend this point and that point. In other words, they were just following the old style was business as usual like that. The Greeks have all, you know when Paul went to Mars Hill and he preached the Gospel, they say, well, let's see what this guy's got to say. Another philosopher hammering out his philosophy and they rejected him. When he started talking about the resurrection from the dead. Well, these Greeks were doing the same thing and the church, they were going back to their old ways of arguing and just using the gospel.

It's just another philosophy and rallying around one teacher and another teacher and creating conflict. Paul tells them that this not only created conflict and all the symptoms of stress that accompany the conflict division and arguing and party factions and all that kind of stuff, but it also demonstrated their immaturity is Christians and the danger of them destroying what had been legitimately built by himself and others and which belong to all of them equally in Christ. You know, the, the point about this passage is this, there is no need for conflict in the church because we all equally own our part of the kingdom. You know, we all equally own this thing called the Kingdom of God. Nobody owns a bigger piece than somebody, than somebody else. Our conflicts are conflicts in the church may not be as philosophically based. This, this here, okay, this was a philosophical, cultural problem.

Maybe. Maybe our conflicts are very simple. Maybe somebody forgot to return a book that they borrowed from us. Yeah. That is that simple. Our favorite book. But they didn't bring it back. Or maybe somebody's child hurt your child. That happened. You got into a fight, somebody got punched. You know, the parents get into it. Sure. Or perhaps there is a conflict over how things need to be done in the church these brethren think we ought to do. You know, we ought to put up the lights horizontally. We ought to do it vertically. You know, there's a conflict over these types of things. Or maybe were, you know, there's a conflict because we're not being treated the way we think we ought to be treated and a lot of reasons for conflict, whatever the conflict, whether high philosophical or just low mundane everyday making potato type of conflict. This passage does give us several guidelines on how to go about resolving the conflict. Now remember, one thing, the conflict continues to create stress until it's resolved. Okay, and I've worked in churches who at least knows I have worked in churches where there were 30 year old conflicts that never got resolved that continue to create stress and strain and business meetings and men's meetings and grinding it out 30 years later because they had not been resolved way back.

I saw the effect of it three decades later. People willing to tell the church apart for things that had happened 30 years ago. Even if we don't think about it, conflicts continue to produce stressful feelings until they get settled one way or another. You know it's better for you that a conflict gets settled, not to your satisfaction. Then you continue in the conflict because not to your satisfaction, you can at least accept it and work at resolution that way, but if the conflict continues, it continues to create stress for rules to help resolve conflict. Number one, look, in looking in marriage counseling, the hardest problem in resolving conflict is to get people to see what it is that they are doing. That contributes to the problem. Usually they always see what the other person is doing. I want you to change what she is doing. If you could just get him to understand this, everything be okay.


Step number one is always to get the individual person to see what it is that they're doing and doesn't. That doesn't say the other person might not be doing something, but first of all, it's looking inwards. So the first step in resolving a conflict is to try to see what it is that we are doing that causes the problem. We can't see the real problem until we look inwards first. Now for the Korean themes, of course the problem was there worldliness and the imagery, that was the problem. Paul just goes right to the center of it, right to the heart of it and he put his finger right on it. He says, you guys are acting like near man has nothing to do with philosophy, nothing to do with who's the better teacher. When it has to do with is that your people are wildly mind. Many times we don't look in first before we try to resolve issues and even when we do, we rarely see what the problem is. You know a good way to look in is by asking somebody else to look in for us. You really want to see what you are doing to contribute to the problem. Ask somebody. I dare you.

Ask somebody now, not the person that you're in conflict with Jeffery parts below. Third question, don't you don't what we do, right? We go to a third person soliciting their help so that they can with us. Go get the other guy. That's normal. Let's you know we want to survive. Rarely does it happen that we go to a third person and say, look, tell me what's wrong with me here. What am I doing wrong? What am I doing wrong? It's amazing. It's amazing. This is usually an eyeopener when we can look in and see what it is. And when we finally look inside, we get a clear view and that leads us to step number two, looking out. Really simple lesson. Looking out, looking at means, trying to assess the real situation that's causing the trouble. Usually when we look in first, we're better able to look out and see more clearly the true situation at hand. You know what causes most conflicts? No, it causes most conflicts. Most conflicts are caused by three things.

Can you see, can you tell me, go ahead. Let's see. I mean, I'm up here. I don't like teaching a class from up here. It's so impersonal, you know? But tell me, what are most conflicts caused by just selfishness. Okay. Differences of opinion. Yeah. Cry. Misunderstand. Yeah. Yeah, Miss Understand. Now all those things are true. I mean in our personalities. But do you ever, when you get to the resolution party or conflict, you know, people say, well, wait a minute, you said that my, that my sister was ugly. I'm sorry. I said my wife was ugly. Oh, mine. That's a whole different thing now. And you know what I'm saying? We, we miss, we miss communicate. We Miss Connecticut. That's why these, you know, uh, when countries get together and then negotiating wars and things, you know, or settling piece thing, they've got all the translators. One word, you know, can just, there's so careful in what they say because they don't want to miscommunicate what's going on. Another thing that, um, the conflicts that caused conflicts, confusion, confusion over the facts. Sometimes we don't have all the facts thank pants or why sometimes when their kids come in, you know, and uh, and they tell the story, oh no. Well judge, kids always been in trouble in the rock. Turns out to be something. Maybe this, they, you know, and you know, we don't have all the facts.


Maybe a, you're a little boy, I forgot to tell you that. Oh well I did run over his cat with my bike with, hey, wait a minute. You know, you got to get all the facts and then the third one, but you know what? The third one is the main one that causes conflict. Can you tell me? I mentioned it yet. I think the third one is, and the church now, Bill said about you. Oh boy. Now that causes conflict because usually gossip doesn't communicate accurately. The body language, the feelings of tonality of the original story, right? We've all played that game, right? You tell us a the story and be tells a story to see and see, tells a story to d and it goes down maybe 10 and then you ask the 10th person what their original story was and it's like, wow. It's like from Mars or gossips like that gossip.

No matter how noble the intention never manages to get all the facts and all the nuances and all the feelings, you know, there's always a spin on gospel, a malicious spin. Boy, if there was one thing someone said to me, it's, you could just eliminate one thing in the church that would promote its growth. You know, what would you do? Was it would be the drinking that's going on with the children, the smoke in the fornication work. One would be that you would just wipe out. I would say, dear God, if you, if you would do one miracle in this place that I could eliminate, if I could just eliminate the gossip, we got this thing linked, we got a beat because we don't see this as electric. Very big deal. We don't see it as a big sin and unique and kills creates conflict and it promotes conflict and it continues to generate conflict.

Gossip. The Corinthians were confused about what the Gospel was and what the true role of the apostles and the ministers were and this led to conflict. They didn't communicate clearly. They were confused among themselves. Usually when we see ourselves and we get a kind of a reality check about what the real situation is on the true facts of the situation, conflict is usually diffused and the stress level goes down considerably over the conflict issues. Third thing, look up, look at yourself, look out, try to get the facts, really try to understand what's going on. Then look up in the world. Diffusing the diffusing the situation is usually enough. Yeah. Once you've defused, it's enough everybody you know back to their corner back to work. Everybody shows over. But in the church we want to do one better than that. We consciously strive to go beyond just being mad at each other.

No, I'm not mad at you anymore. That's not good enough for us in the churches it we want something better than that. In the church, we're working on building each other up in love. That's our objective in the church. So as Christians, we're not only to look into, look out, but we're also to look up to God. Paul reminded the Corinthians that they were a holy temple and their conflict was the threat to this godly thing. Our motivation to resolve conflict, our motivation to avoid division is motivated not only by the desire to avoid stress, which is a good thing. I mean, I hate conflict. I hate confrontation and the stress that comes from it, but that's not my only motivation. My other motivation is I'm always reminded that Jesus said, this is the way that all men will know that you're my disciples in the way that you love one another. That's the other motivation that I have. I mean, you know what kind of a Christian am I? If I'm always mad at you, you know it's hard to sleep at night. Every time you are in conflict with a brother and sister, ask yourself the question, is God on my side?

Good. That's yourself. Okay, whose side is God? I know whose side I'm on. I'm on my side and I can get the brother here. This sister grew all agree with me, but it's God on my side is God blessing my conduct here. If I'm not writing, I'm on the phone. I'm gathering a posse is got on my side and when I get to God or rather when I get before God in judgment, well God raise up my arm and say the winter, my mother, long ago, like a lifetime, but he won and that conflict, the winner is Mike. Is that what's going to happen is that, is that Jesus? I mean this is that what it's about winning. It's hard to have that as the focal point when your Lord is on a cross, you know, male to it. I, there's an incongruity there in my mind that I wouldn't invest so much emotional energy in winning when my lord gave up his life. You know, it's like it doesn't fit. Somehow it doesn't work. Finally the fourth thing, look, look out. Look up.


look around. Take a look around you. When we see the many physical blessings that we have and when we recognize the spiritual that we all equally share and nobody can take away from us, man alive, we realized that conflict is the devil's way of trying to rob us of peace and the joy. Paul encouraged the Corinthians to recognize that they, they already possess what was valuable in Christ. There was no need to argue. I mean, they already had the spiritual gifts. They already had the holy spirit. They already had salvation. They already had eternal life. They already had forgiveness. 30 had piece of mind. I mean, they already had it.

Ask Yourself, is the conflict really worth it? What am I fighting over here? What's the battle over? I mean look around and see those who are suffering in this world without the hope of Christ. Take a look at the Rwandans. It is amazing to me, and I'm not talking, I'm talking about myself. It is amazing to myself that I can just blink, read the paper and blink that 500,000 people were massacred in less than a month by hand, by gun, by Bain, a gutted, killed, murdered mercilessly children, women, old people, innocence in front of our very collective. And we can say, you wonder what the interest rates are doing. Page four and these people, most of them dying a horrible death without the hope of Christ. Excuse me very much. I mean, we've got social security and we're arguing how the quality of our health care and we're arguing about this and that and Emma, am I going to buy a new car this year or next year?

And we got all of that and on top of that we got heaven too. All of this and having to move these people who've got zip and they're lost forever. On top of that, when you think about that, you're saying, what am I arguing about? What is this fight about? We need to look around and see how our conflicts hurt other people. How are conflicts destroy ourselves and how they rob us of our blessings? We need to run to Jesus, not walk, don't walk, run to Jesus stands for forgiveness and help to resolve the conflicts that we are. They are unworthy of us as Christians.

There's too much suffering in this world that we can contribute to alleviating then that then we should invest our energy and time and being in conflict with other people. Just look around. Just look around. Okay. Let's review and the lessons. Yours. We said that conflict producers stress in the church, especially in the church. We said that conflict continues to create stress until it is resolved and we said that conflict usually is caused by a misunderstanding, usually just misunderstanding or miscommunication or worse still by gossip and we said there were four rules. Morals, looking. Tell yourself the trouble with us is me. If you start like that, you've got a good shot at solving who look out, tried to see both sides. Don't try to just see his side, your side, trying to see both sides at the same time, how they work together. Look up.

It's not just who you are, it's who you are. If you ever hear yourself saying or thinking, do you know who I am? You know who you're dealing with here and the minute that you spiritually get your fists on your hips you and say, do you know who you're dealing with? Who you had salted? The minute that you say that, there should be a bell that goes off in your head or maybe a little box with a hand that comes up and slaps you in the face and says, it's not who you are. It's coups. You are the accounts that should determine how you act. And finally look around brothers and sisters, we already have it all. What more do we want? We already got it all. Do you know on this earth, in the history of mankind, there isn't any more to get. We have the best food. We have the best homes. We have the, we have the best of everything of anybody who has ever lived in the history of mankind. We've got it. What more do we want? Why should we spoil it? Why should we spoil them like the Corinthians? Why should they tear down the church with their own hands?

That's the lesson for this week course almost. You feel like you should offer an invitation, don't you? Next week we're going to continue our series on stress and there'll be the stress from loss. Some of us have talked about that in our last class.