Mind you. It’s not easy.
From the beginning of time, war was there.
My parents grew up during World War II. When they got married, bombs were falling from the sky. Ten million people died because of World War II. Because of that war, in Europe alone, there were 13 million orphans.
When I was growing up, it was the Vietnam War. Two million people died in that war.
Here’s the truth: No one wins in a war. Any war. Even the so-called Victor of the war is really a Loser too.
But where do wars begin?
If there’s war inside you, that war will flow outside you.
If you don’t like yourself, you won’t like anyone else.
If you’re angry at yourself, you’ll be angry at the world too.
If you don’t accept your weaknesses, you won’t accept other people’s weaknesses.
And if you feel unworthy, you’ll be looking to others to fill your need of worth. Which is downright impossible. And you start blaming others for the mess in your life.
When there is no peace inside you, there can be no peace outside you. The war that rages outside you is merely a reflection of the war that rages within you.
Why do you fight with your friend? With your sister? With your spouse? With your parents?
Sometimes, because you don’t have peace within yourself.
Here’s what I learned. Peace flows to the people around you.
I’m a realist. I don’t believe we can remove all the conflicts from our lives.
You see, there isn’t only one kind of conflict.
There are three…
3 Kinds Of Conflicts
People create many problems in their lives because they don’t know the difference between these three conflicts. To save yourself from many problems, know the difference between them.
1. Conflicts You Shouldn’t Avoid
Carol and Pam have a thriving jewellery business.
Carol owns the items while Pam sells them. Unknown to Carol, Pam sells it at a higher price but tells Carol how times are hard and how she sold the jewels for a bargain.
When Carol discovered the deception, she figured that in the past couple of years, Pam has milked from her two million pesos.
Carol called me up and asked, “Brother Bo, what should I do?”
I tossed the question back, “What do you want to do?”
“A part of me just wants to let it be. To forget about it. Anyway, I still earn from the business. And besides, Pam is a friend and I don’t want to lose the friendship.”
“But Carol, I don’t think there’s a real friendship.”
I knew my words stung. Carol remained silent at the other end of the line.
“Carol, let me ask you a question. Do you care for Pam?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Then fight her. Don’t let her remain in sin. Confront. Be angry. Present the evidence. If she repents, then the friendship may be repaired. If not, in one sense, you don’t lose anything. It was already lost the moment Pam started deceiving you.”
This is what I mean by necessary fights.
When your husband is beating you up, either physically or emotionally—fight him. Get out of the house. Seek help from a temporary shelter. Never come back until he seeks help for his violent nature.
Because you love yourself—and you love the person who is abusing you.
If you don’t fight, you’re tolerating his or her sin.
That’s not love!
Jesus said, If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. (Matthew 15:18)
I repeat. We need to correct because we love.
A wise man once said, “If you enjoy correcting someone, don’t.”
We correct someone not because of revenge or a desire to punish or humiliate someone. We shouldn’t enjoy correction. It’s always painful to do so. But we do it because we love.
And then there’s the second kind of conflict…
2. Conflicts You Can’t Avoid
Someone asked me, “Bo, what if you move heaven and earth to heal a broken relationship, but the other person doesn’t want to?”
“Then at least you tried,” I told her. “You’ve tried to reconcile. God sees your effort. The ball is in the other court now.”
In the Bible, David had a love-hate relationship with King Saul.
David loved Saul, and he wanted to play music for him. He wanted to slay his enemies for him. And he wanted to give him a few cute grandchildren. (Yep, Saul was his father-in-law.)
But King Saul was jealous of the young man’s growing fan’s club. The old man was terribly insecure and saw him as a threat to the crown.
This love-hate relationship was so absurd; David had to be skilful at playing his harp while dodging low-flying spears thrown by Saul in sudden fits of insane jealousy. Now that’s what you call a flexible musician.
That’s why St. Paul says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”(Romans 12:18)
Read that inserted phrase again: “As far as it depends on you…”
I love Paul for putting that in.
Because there are some conflicts in our lives when it doesn’t depend on us anymore. If you’ve tried to reconcile, but the other person insists on fighting you, live your life. Be happy. The Lord will fight for you; you have only to be still. (Exodus 14:14)
And if he finally comes to his senses, offer your love anew.
And now for the third kind of conflict…
3. Conflicts You Should Avoid
This is the bulk of our conflicts.
And this is where I want to dwell on for my message today.
I believe that you can avoid 99% of your potential conflicts.
Personally, I don’t want to have a singleunnecessary conflict in my life. If I can avoid it, I will.
Why? From experience, a single conflict drains me, saps my energy, robs my attention, and wastes my time—Energy, attention, and time that I should be spending in achieving my dreams.
It’s a no brainer, really. I’ll avoid conflicts because I’m conserving my resources. They’re needed in more productive projects!
No wonder so many people can’t move forward towards their goals. They have no resources left.
Follow my advice. Choose your battles.
How do you avoid 99% of your conflicts?
You do it by following 4 powerful strategies of a Peacemaker.
Today, I’ll discuss the first two Strategies—Be Faithful and Be Forbearing. (Next week, I’ll discuss the other two—Be Flexible and Be Foolish. Plus an extra “Bonus” fifth Strategy.)
Here’s the first Strategy of avoiding unnecessary conflicts.
1. Be Faithful
I first read about “emotional bank accounts” from Stephen Covey.
And the insight is genius.
We have an emotional bank account with each person we relate to. Like an ordinary bank account, we make deposits and withdrawals to that account.
When we show we care for that person, no matter how small, we deposit to that person’s emotional bank account. But when we take that person for granted or when we offend that person, we make withdrawals.
But if there are sufficient deposits in that relationship, the “account” or relationship doesn’t get closed. We all make mistakes. Mistakes are forgivable. It’s when the withdrawals outnumber the deposits, that’s when the account is closed or the relationship breaks down.
Conflicts happen when the friendship is neglected.
The best defence is still offence.
My wife and I have a fantastic relationship. One reason: Each day, my wife and I work at our marriage. Each day, we make deposits to our emotional bank account.
A great relationship requires great work. It just doesn’t happen.
Let me give you another example.
The top leaders in my spiritual family, Light of Jesus, don’t just have business meetings. We do three important things to work on our relationships.
Each week, every Tuesday, we have very long, very “inefficient” business meetings. We meet from breakfast till lunch. That’s five hours. Yes, it’s insane. Business gurus will call it a major time-waster. All the Business books I read today call for short business meetings. In their eyes, we fail miserably. Because in our meetings, there’s lots of laughter and banter not related to the business at hand.
But I like keeping it that way. Because we’re not just about the work. We’re about building “lifetime” friendships that will last until Heaven. Because our relationships are our mission. Our relationships are our message. People will know that we’re His disciples by the love that we have for one another.
And every two weeks, top leaders meet in small groups (which we call Caring Groups) and share our personal stories—our joys and sorrows. That way, we’re friends first before we’re co-workers.
Aside from that, we do something utterly crazy—something that I haven’t heard anyone else do. About four times a year, we take an extended trip together. Last month, we hopped on a huge bus and took off to Baguio for four days. No business meetings. We just wanted to bond as brothers. Sometimes, we take our families in these crazy trips.
What are we doing? We’re making regular deposits of love to each other’s emotional bank accounts.
Here’s the second strategy…
2. Be Forbearing
If you want to avoid unnecessary conflicts, you need to learn how to accept other’s weaknesses.
My wife has learned to live with my many weaknesses.
I’m totally clueless when it comes with directions. I get lost inside my house. “Sweetheart, where’s the toilet again?”
Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But I’m clueless where the North, South, East, and West are.
She’s accepted that as a fact of life and lives with it. She doesn’t get frustrated when we get lost on the road.
I’m also not good working with my hands. I can change a light bulb, yes. But don’t expect me to do anything else. My wife knows that. She’s totally given up the stereotypical expectation that husbands can fix stuff around the house. Today, she insists that I stay away from any malfunctioning equipment, lest I end up destroying it even more.
Another weakness? I tend to forget where I park my car. I can memorize an entire Talk verbatim with 8 major points and 63 sub-points, but I can’t—even if my life depended on it—remember where I parked my car in a parking lot. Crazy but true. And my wife has learned to live with that. When I ask her, “Sweets, where did I park the car?” she doesn’t get angry. She just smiles. She knows she’s married to this one-of-a-kind human being.
I’ve learned to live with my wife’s weaknesses too.
And if you think I’ll talk about them here, you’re wrong. Talking about my wife’s weaknesses has been proven to be hazardous to my health and endangers my existence in this universe.
But I forbear. When her weaknesses show, I just smile.
Actually, they’re not weaknesses. They’re just part of who she is—and I love the entire package.
That’s why we avoid a lot of conflicts in our marriage. St. Paul says,Forbear with one another…(Colossians 3:13) and Therefore, accept one another…(Romans 15:17)
Next week, I’ll share with you the third and fourth strategy of avoiding unnecessary conflicts in your life, plus a Bonus strategy.
May your dreams come true,