Monday, February 11, 2013

Transforming Disagreements into Blessings

How do disagreements come about? Looking back from my encounters, I discovered that disagreements usually come from two common sources—criticisms that found its way back to the person being criticized and another comes from having an opinion, plan or proposition that needs to prevail over another. Let’s deal with the first source and how to translate it into a blessing. Here’s what I’ve come across to think about from a certain person named “H.G.B.” who observed, “Criticism is always difficult to accept, but if we receive it with humility and a desire to improve our character it can be very helpful. Only a fool does not profit when he is rebuked for his mistakes. Several years ago I read a helpful article on this subject. It stated that when we are criticized we ought to ask ourselves whether the criticism contains any truth. If it does, we should learn from it, even when it is not given with the right motivation and in the right spirit.

The article then offered these four suggestions: (1) Commit the matter instantly to God, asking Him to remove all resentment or counter criticism on your part and teach you the needed lessons. (2) Remember that we are all great sinners and that the one who has criticized us does not begin to know the worst about us. (3) If you have made a mistake or committed a sin, humbly and frankly confess it to God and to anyone you may have injured. (4) Be willing to learn afresh that you are not infallible and that you needed God's grace and wisdom every moment of the day to keep on the straight path. When we are criticized, let's accept what is true and act upon it, thereby becoming a stronger person. He who profits from rebuke is wise.”

Following such great insights will surely transform any criticism coming our way into a blessing. Always remember that no matter what we do, it is a fact that there are always criticisms coming from people who can’t afford not to criticize. Having been a pastor for many years, I have learned to deal with them carefully. The way I deal with them is this: I usually judge any criticism I received with thorough assessment of its truth and realism. If they can help me improve whatever it was I was being criticized, then it becomes a blessing for my own benefit and even appreciates it as coming from a concerned person. But if and when the criticism is malicious and without merit whatsoever after careful analysis, then I would dismiss it out rightly as if I did not hear anything. I need to make a choice to cause me to be discouraged about it or transform it as a blessing. 

In regards to the other aspect of disagreement I’ve mentioned above, one example that I’ve come across came from the Scriptures: Acts 15:36-40 showed how disagreements can even affect those that are followers of Jesus: “And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are." Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord” (ESV).   

Clearly, Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement that causes them to be separated with one another due to John Mark, being Barnabas’ cousin (Colossians 4:10). They may have separated but the blessing resulting from it was two missionary teams spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ instead of one. However, the story did not end there but definitely produced interesting outcomes afterwards: John Mark became the author of the Gospel of Mark and even though Paul disliked him in this story, John Mark became a companion of Paul in his missionary journey eventually, “Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry (2 Timothy 4:11). See how everything turned out for the best and ultimately, God has His way of transforming what seems bad towards His plan for humanity’s salvation and for His servant’s benefit. Don’t immediately jump to conclusions in every disagreements you encounter, they may be coupled with unexpected blessing when dealt with properly and biblically.

Let’s talk again!