Not in front of the kids

·3 min read

Aug. 27—People don't always get along. Disagreements happen, be it in families or churches or any human enterprise. We do not always see eye to eye. When disagreement happens, you are face to face with a choice. Every time.

Options include:

A. Ignore it; let it go; walk away. You may figure it's not worth pursuing, or would not be constructive even if you tried. So you zip it and say nothing. Sometimes that works; the matter may blow over and be soon forgotten.

Option B would be to contend/fight/argue robustly. You could get things off your chest and give 'em a piece of your mind. You could rally others to your cause and make it a public scrum. You could pull out all the stops and say whatever it takes, about the issue or the person, to win the argument. Most of us are averse to such verbal brawling, but some folks are quite open to it.

There is an option C. If A is passive and B is aggressive, C is recommended. To my take, A is Acceptable sometimes, B is Bad, and C is Constructive. The third way is to deal with the disagreement, but calmly and privately. C maintains the public peace and keeps the door open for further future progress. You don't pretend that all is well, but nor do you escalate the division. To get particular: is not C what your parents did? My folks did not agree on everything, but they did not fight in front of the kids. They did not rattle the security of the children, nor get them involved picking sides and upping the ante. How wise and salutary that is.

When we seek the Way of Christ and examine God's Guide Book, we receive instructions on disagreeing. Jesus clearly taught us to keep it 1:1.

"If your brother sins against you, go to him and show him his fault. But do it privately, just between yourselves. If he listens to you, you have won your brother back." (Matthew 18:15).

The Apostles implored the believers to keep it civil. There's plenty of teachings like, "The Lord's servant must not quarrel. He must be kind toward all, a good and patient teacher, who is gentle as he corrects his opponents, for it may be that God will give them opportunity to repent and come to know the truth." (II Timothy 2:24-25). Even St. Peter and St. Paul had to step aside and hash things out. (see Galatians 2). May our gracious God empower you to be able to do this, too.

Chris Brekke is a retired pastor who served Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Rochester for 13 years and Trinity Lutheran in West Concord for 10. He and his wife live in Roseville, Minn., where he keeps busy with volunteering, church and family.

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