I knew a woman whose greatest desire was a peaceful and happy home. She really never cared how that peace was established nor what transpired to achieve it. I never understood if she just wanted peace and quiet or the true peace of addressing conflict on the heart level.
Pastor Mike talked on May 20th about deep longing stemming from an unfulfilled and discontented heart. He was speaking into lust, but we see from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 that many selfish desires lead to discontent. The family challenge material this series focuses on our selfish and discontented hearts as the root of conflict in our relationships. You can see that material here:the-slippery-slope-of-conflict
True peacemakers step into conflict in healthy ways. They think about healthy ways to embrace their own longings and see another’s desires; they do not run from conflict or attack others because of it. We looked last week in the blog at the responses we have to conflict as peace-fakers, peace-breakers or peacemakers. This week we will look at the heart of conflict.
James 4:1-3 says “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
From Young Peacemakers by Corlette Sande
“Many of our conflicts happen because we want our own way and make choices to get it. These choices come from selfish desires that are rooted in our hearts…Sinful, self-serving desires often take control of our hearts. The heart is like a battlefield where our selfish desires are at war with what we know is right…When we give into them, we often end up in a conflict with someone.” p. 37
- Selfishness = you want your own way
- Self-pity = you feel sorry for yourself and you want others to feel sorry for you, too
- Greed = you want more and you are not content with what you have
- Pride = you think you are better than others
- Fear of others = you are afraid of what others think of you– you want to be liked
All of these selfish desires bring us into conflict with others. Are we aware of which ones affect our relationships in our families, jobs and friendships? Are we aware of actions and reactions that give rise to conflict? People make choices on purpose; everyone is responsible for their own choices. Our choices can be:
- good or poor
- right or wrong
- obedient or disobedient
- respectful or disrespectful
- wise or foolish
- righteous or sinful
We are not condemned for making wrong choices. The death and resurrection of Jesus covers all our wrong choices, but God does require us to own those choices, see their effects on us and others, search our hearts for wrong desires and address the conflicts they cause. We can turn our hearts to His desires by filling ourselves with His presence. We take out wrong heart desires by confession and asking forgiveness. We put in new heart desires through reading the Bible, worshiping Him and prayer. It is not about having a home of peace and quiet. It is about working through the heart of family conflict for true peace with God and others.
Roman 12: 1-3 says “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”
Questions to talk about this older children:
see these pdf worksheets on choices good & bad choice wksht and consequences choices cycle
- What are you longing for in your heart (your way, peace & quiet, a possession, a sexual encounter, etc…)?
- Discontent can cause longings to develop out of proportion and out of control and cause us to go after things we should not.
- What are you discontented with these days?
- What are you willing to do to get it?
- Has God failed to provide something you need in your life? Does He have you a place that causing great discontent?
- How does wanting something or not getting what you want cause conflict in your home?
- What does Psalm 37:4-6 say about changing our hearts?
Good choice, Poor choice, Your Choice:
Use the language of ”Good Choice, Poor Choice, Your Choice” when you have a situation of conflict with children. Use the the word “choice” as it will develop personal responsibility for their behavior. It is their choice made by their heart that affects their behavior. We want them to develop personal responsibility for their choices as they grow older. We can then model positive affirmation or negative consequence based on their choices rooted in their heart. It will stop them from blame-shifting, whining and pouting actions in the future. Talk about good and poor choices of other people when you are reading books, watching others, or watching shows.
Respond with positive affirmation:
- I like the good choice you just made ___________________ . Your choice was a good choice.
- I like your choice to ___________ . Your choice was a good choice.
Respond with negative consequence:
- You chose to __________ . Your choice to ____________ will cause __________________. Your choice was a poor choice
- You chose to _________. Your choice was a poor choice. You will not be allowed to ______________ because of your choice