Disagreement and Confrontation for the Prosperous Soul
I grew up with a profound poverty mentality that made disagreements and confrontations seem highly threatening to me. These situations filled me with anxiety almost to the point of internal trembling.
First I tried to defend myself by hiding, but I learned that hiding wasn’t always effective because the people who threatened me sometimes found me. When that happened, my second response was to rage.
[Stephen discusses this in greater depth in his Prosperous Soul teaching. Click here for more information.]
I had many other struggles to deal with, but those two—hiddenness and rage—were paramount in my life. They were my toolkit when it came to the delicate and important necessity of disagreement and confrontation.
Don’t Be Afraid of Conflict
Disagreements are unavoidable because we live in a world of human personalities. Like stones, we rub on one another. It isn’t realistic to think no one will ever disagree with us.
In fact, disagreements and confrontations are healthy and normal in life, and understanding this gives us a new paradigm. Instead of hiding or trying to manage painful situations through manipulation, we get to accept and even embrace disagreements and confrontations as adults who are growing in Christ.
As Prosperous Souls, we can have meaningful disagreements and confrontations that produce a different outcome than what we might expect.
Keys to Handling Conflict
For years—probably all the way into my early thirties—confrontations and disagreements meant anxiety and turmoil for me. People were offended, and I made enemies as I manipulated so I could avoid or win these dramatic moments.
But as I’ve learned how to be a Prosperous Soul, things have shifted for me. With God’s help, I’ve evicted the lies and deceit of an orphan mindset, and I have learned some keys to handling confrontation that hopefully will benefit you.
Here are a few thoughts to consider when you’re faced with a disagreement.
1. The Other Person Matters
I needed to learn that the person arguing with me had value and that it was good for me to listen to them.
In the past, disagreements and confrontations made me feel like I was about to be killed, so I reacted in desperation. But my fear wasn’t true: I wasn’t about to be killed, and I had to learn to trust that the other person wasn’t trying to kill me.
Even if their words didn’t show it in the moment, the person opposing me had value. I had to discipline myself to grow in this understanding.
2. I Matter
Just as the other person mattered, I had to learn that I mattered. I believed myself to be worthless, which was why I felt so threatened during confrontation.
The truth of God was that I had value and a point to make. This other person and I needed to occupy space on the same field—it wasn’t a competition to defeat someone’s point of view, so we needed to learn to reason together while speaking, listening, and not feeling threatened.
3. Brave Communication
Several years ago, my very good friend Dann Farrelly spoke a message called “Brave Communication,” and it impacted me.
Dann is a wise and skilled articulator, and in this message he talked about how to stand in confrontation, how to communicate bravely, how to hear and courageously share information. This teaching is still available in Bethel’s online store if you’re interested.
I live in a powerful community that is filled with and surrounded by strong, creative leaders. I’ve worked with these men and women for years, which means I’ve had many, many opportunities to grow up.
I am still practicing how to handle disagreements and confrontations well, and like me, you’ll have many opportunities to win this battle. Don’t be afraid to practice. The Bible says, “Solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Heb. 5:14).
Biblical Guidelines for Conflict
As part of a Prosperous Soul community, you and I get to use the Bible as our plumb line as we interact with other people. No matter how emotional or threatening an environment may seem, there is a biblical pattern—a Prosperous Soul model—we can use to grow more and more like Christ.
It won’t always be easy, but learning how to handle conflict is important and valuable.
Consider the following passages your “prescription” for how to approach disagreements and confrontations:
1 Corinthians 2:1–5:
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
God bless your Prosperous Soul.