Giving youth pastors the tools they need to make and shape disciples.

Perception is Reality and Other Misunderstandings

This is part two of my series on resolving conflict in the church the right way. You can check out part one here and part three here. If I can offer you a custom video lesson on this topic click here

Conflict can be sin, but not every conflict is due to someone committing a sin. In fact, many conflicts come because we’re ill informed or we speak before having all the facts. We make assumptions rather than ask questions and we see this conflict of perception come up in the lives of the disciples several times.

Food and That Woman

Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

The disciples did not ask any questions

Seeing something you don’t understand, not listening or discerning and coming up speculation and often wrong conclusions are church people all day. There seems to be no room for curiosity or discussion only perception and judgment.

James says,

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

James 1:19

Church people are quick to judge, quick to speak, quick to become angry and post on social and slow to have a conversation. This should not be. We should get back to giving people the benefit of the doubt. In ministry, this is critical to how the flow of ministry goes.

If you do not trust he people around you, be it your staff, youth leaders or fellow students, judgment will come quickly. Trust only comes through relationships and the more time you spend building those relationships the more your trust of one another deepens and judgment is put off because of those relationships.

The Bread and Those Pharisees

When they crossed to the other side, the disciples forgot to take bread.“Watch out!” Jesus told them. “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

They discussed this among themselves and concluded, “It is because we did not bring any bread.”

Aware of their conversation, Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you debating among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How do you not understand that I was not telling you about bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Then they understood that He was not telling them to beware of the leaven used in bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Another misunderstanding. They talked among themselves and drew a conclusion. Jesus acted like, “you should know bread isn’t an issue with me guys. I am the bread man.”

I’m willing to admit what I don’t know, because I know that’s how I get smarter – @BrianGrazer A Curious Mind

If we are to avoid misunderstanding with our fellow humans, we must be more curious about them. Why are they the way they are? Why would they say that? Why would they do that? Is there a reason I don’t know or don’t understand? Most of the time we just want people to stop doing whatever is annoying us, so we strike out at them like a chid misbehaving in public. Maybe we should ask, “are you ok? ” instead or “I’m curious, why did you take that approach?”

The Mission

Your perception of reality is real to you, but it may not be real at all. Peter got a does of reality when he questioned Jesus about what his purpose was,

From that time on Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.“Far be it from You, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to You!” But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”…

Here is the crux. Conflict comes when assume that something ought to be the way we think it ought to be when we’ve not even considered that maybe God wants to do it differently. Jesus was setting the example when he said, “Not my will, but your will be done” to God.

Humans have the hardest time surrendering themselves to God and are in a constant battle between man’s will and God will. Conflict is inevitable when we tell God how things should be.

Peter, as a Jew know Jesus is Messiah and his context for attempting to rebuke Jesus was that it was his understanding that the Messiah would free Israel from Rome rule. Jesus came to save us all from self rule. He had the mind of man, not the mind of God.

Before jumping into a potential conflict, consider putting on the mind of Christ and approaching the person as Christ would. I do not recommend telling anyone they are Satan and getting behind you, but I do recommend taking godly approach and having a scriptural mindset and a loving attude whether you are the person who is being misunderstood or the one who is misunderstanding.

So, what did we learn from the disciples that we need to avoid?

Ask more questions.

Have all the facts (or as many as possible).

Be generally curious about other people.

Don’t talk about things among yourselves, speculating and assuming. Go to the source.

Get a spiritual mindset before approaching someone with an issue.

The natural man does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. For they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

I Corinthians 2:15

Be aware of your biases when you see something or hear something that does not ring true for you. Give your brother and sisters in Christ the benefit of the doubt, build relationships with them to get to know them better.

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