Conflict Resolution

Pop-Up Sermon: God’s Pulpit Isn’t a Bully Pulpit

 

Black Preacher

(Photo Credit: Christianity Expert)

Before you step into the pulpit, surrender your personal agenda(s), for the pulpit isn’t a space to take spineless, milquetoast shots at folks. Ephesians 4:15 calls us, ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to “speak the truth in love”—keywords: “truth” and “love.” Ministries become ineffective when preachers and pastors use their positions as weapons of carnal warfare, ultimately leading to their own undoing (II Corinthians 10:4). Pastors are called to “feed” and not beat, not condemn (Jeremiah 3:15). Unfortunately, in numerous churches across the nation, pastors beat more than they feed, essentially functioning as tools for Satan. If you’re a pastor or preacher who has developed acrimonious relationships with individuals, then work on ameliorating those relationships in private—not from God’s hallowed pulpit.

When bitterness and discord accompany you to the pulpit, they win; the anointing fails to flow. You inevitably begin to see that God cannot employ you in the ways He once was able; you inevitably begin to see that your spiritual gifts—like the gift of healing—do not work for you any longer; you inevitably begin to see that your personal and ministry’s finances dwindle significantly—as does church attendance. Why? Because you’ve “given place” to the Devil and not concentrated solely on Jesus (Ephesians 4:27). Issues, problems and people have taken Jesus’ spot. Why? Because you’ve become self-occupied instead of Christ-occupied.

Again, settle your issues and problems out of the pulpit—in private. For I Thessalonians 4:11 says, “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before” (New Living Translation).

True Believers, we pray for a day when all pulpits are genuinely reverenced by those who frequent them.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison               

Pop-Up Sermon: Show People Themselves

Couple Arguing

(Photo Credit: Urbanette)

One of the most effective ways to show people how they behave is to respond to them the same way they respond to you. This, of course, goes against what is traditionally taught in most faiths. From time to time, however, you need to expose people for who they are by demonstrating to them how they act. Jesus often employed parables (elementary teachings) to make profound and enduring statements. You might contemplate approaching people in the aforementioned way as a means of adopting a similar pedagogical practice used by Jesus.

By temporarily choosing the ways of others, you can cause them to abandon their unfavorable conduct, considering they will not like when these ways are used against them. This strategy presents a meaningful opportunity for you to teach them valuable lessons and change their lives potentially forever.

At some point, you simply have to let folks know their behavior is unacceptable, and you must engage in efforts to discontinue their troubling conduct. You possess the power to ameliorate those around you.  Although they may not know yet, you’re the change they need to see in their lives.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Problem is You—Not Someone Else

Solving Problems

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When one allows his or her challenges, problems and circumstances to overtake him or her, the resolution lies in the mirror. You are the problem. Stop running around trying to make it seem like the problem is someone else. Even when you do underhanded stuff to attempt to make the real problem seem like it’s someone else, the fact still remains the true problem is you. People will allow their intellectual and spiritual vision to become clouded by listening to the lies and noise of folks who really don’t mean to do them any good in the first place. You have to be careful who you lend your ears to, considering you might be lending them to someone who is responsible for your downward spiral or downfall. Always allow the wisdom and discernment God gives you to lead you, even when you’re at home with members of your immediate family. Lending your ears to the words and “advice” of those immediate family members may be the reason why you’re dealing with the challenges, problems and circumstances you’re currently facing.

A person who has great character does not allow what he or she is going through to have a deleterious impact on his or her character. People with great character rise above the problem and seek an effective and amicable resolution to the problem.

If you’re truly interested in resolving your problems, then you should welcome the input of people you’ve known for a long time. When they offer their opinions and critiques, you shouldn’t turn them into your enemies simply because they express unsettling sentiments. Those unsettling sentiments might be the vehicles through which you realize what you need to do to remedy your problems. God intentionally designed us to be dependent on one another, evidenced from the beginning of the world by Adam’s longing for human companionship and a “help meet.” Never allow a spirit of intolerance to cause you to think and act ignorantly.

When people challenge you, embrace the challenge.

Never be afraid to acknowledge and admit you’re losing your way. Although people are willing to give superficial support to someone who says, “be yourself,” many don’t demonstrate an authentic commitment to being themselves.

Get out of your comfort zone and respond to your problems candidly. You will live a more enjoyable life when you muster the courage to deal squarely with your problems. Take the necessary time to conduct a frank self-assessment. Engage in deep thought about the way you process problems and your style(s) for addressing them. Make the essential modifications and begin to live life to the fullest.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Get to the Heart of the Matter

White Couple

(Photo Credit: Daily Mail)

When you desire to have a serious discourse with someone, be sure you’re ready to be transparent with him or her. Beating around the metaphorical bush with the person you’re communicating with can cause him or her to distrust you.  It can appear to him or her that you have something to hide.  If you truly don’t have anything to conceal from the person, then get to the heart of the matter; that is, let the person know what’s truly on your mind.  When you’re having an important conversation with an individual and you’re not as forthcoming as possible, one has to wonder if it’s really a conversation or not; it could just be a performance.

No one wants to feel like he or she is banging his or her head against the wall just to get you to offer a smidgen of candor.  The reality is many people aren’t prepared to engage in frank discourses with others.  One can posit that most relationship problems, including legal separations and divorces, are a result of a failure to have bold communication.  Too many people lack the boldness to have the conversations that need to take place.

People will never really know what’s bothering you if you’re not willing to tell them.  You will discover that it’s liberating to disclose to people how you’re really feeling.

Although it may not be what you want to hear, you reveal yourself to be a coward when you lack the courage to say what needs to be said.  This is why it’s vital to help people to overcome their fears.  By helping more people to overcome their fears, there will be a reduction in the number of people who allow the fear to communicate candidly to hinder or sever their various relationships.

Some people are afraid to have bold conversations because they are fearful of confrontation.  It’s almost impossible to go through life without experiencing confrontation.  Those individuals who aren’t afraid of confrontation and who aren’t afraid to have frank discourses with you are demonstrating maturity.  There will be some who will say they just love drama, but the reality is mature people never leave what needs to be said unsaid.

Being bold about what you say does not mean being intentionally hurtful to others.  You can speak truthfully to people without being abrasive. Just don’t let the potential of someone getting hurt by your words prevent you from saying what needs to be said, however.  Ultimately, the person who receives your candid words will be better off having heard your words.

When a person is honest with you, what he or she says to you may make you angry.  Give the person credit for being truthful.  Respond to the truth in a mature way.  You don’t want people to avoid speaking candidly to you because they know you will react immaturely.  The way we receive truth will unveil important revelations about us, even some revelations we may not be ready to receive.

It’s time to get real with the people around you, and it’s time to get real with yourself.  Have the essential discourses you need to have today.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Your Apology Isn’t Enough

Apology

(Photo Credit: Conscious Manager)

Although you can genuinely forgive a person, some things people do to you require more than a simple apology. Even if the person accepts your apology, this may not always take away the pain of the wrong you have done. When you do certain wrongs to an individual, you need to work to demonstrate to the person you’re truly sorry. Your goal should be to restore that person’s confidence in you again. It can become quite unsatisfying to allow people to do whatever they please to you and then pretend that an apology heals everything.

If you will be honest, you will admit that an apology does not heal everything someone does to you. Yes, forgive everyone for everything he or she does to you. Don’t try to pretend that forgiveness cures the pain of all wrongdoing, however.

Determine in your mind that you’re not going to do things that cause people constant pain.  We all, of course, make mistakes. Unfortunately, we all don’t elect to work tirelessly to repair the damage that our mistakes produce.

You shouldn’t be so self-absorbed that you don’t even realize the harm that you do to others. Wake up and acknowledge the destructive impact of your words and actions. Your actions are not going to improve until your mind experiences a transformation. How you think determines your actions. If you think negatively, then your actions are going to be negative.

Those who have been sincerely hurt by things that people have done have to recognize when people are making efforts to recompense for their transgressions. It’s not healthy for broken people to decide that they’re going to be angry with those who have wronged them for the rest of their lives. When you do this, you share some of the blame for the wrong that was done to you: your unwillingness to make room for healing does not allow change to happen.

Why isn’t an apology always enough, though? The core reason why an apology is often not enough is an apology is frequently just the beginning of the process of your part in helping a person to heal from the pain you have caused. When you accept full responsibility for your wrongs, then you will embrace what needs to be done to restore a person to his or her previous state. You will discover that while you’re helping someone to heal that you can see healing manifest itself in your own life.

Let’s change our mentality that an apology should always be good enough. Let’s change our focus to healing instead just forgiving and apologizing.

Call someone today that you have done wrong and let the person know that you are more than sorry for the wrong that you’ve done to him or her; let him or her know that you plan to participate in his or her healing process. Although you may have originally thought that the person was just being overly sensitive, and he or she may have, the fact is you will be a better person for doing the appropriate things to mend this broken person.

Wouldn’t America and the world truly be better if many broken relationships were repaired?

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Complicated Beauty of Forgiveness

Forgiveness

(Photo Credit: Joint Interest)

Although it can be quite difficult to forgive people sometimes, it’s essential that you forgive them.  You may feel that the people have done things to you and/or stated things about you that make them unworthy of forgiveness.  Everyone deserves forgiveness, however.  When you’re unwilling to forgive others, you hold yourself back from progressing.  You will continue to carry the weight of unforgiveness around with you.  Holding grudges robs you of living a life liberated from the control of others.  When you fail to forgive individuals who have wronged you, you’re allowing the things they’ve done to you to control you.

When you forgive people for their errors, you make room in your life for greater things to happen in it.

Forgiveness

(Photo credit: Celestine Chua)

Forgiving individuals does not mean you have to become friends with them and hang out with them.  It means you have released yourself and them from any personal animosity, malevolent thoughts, and desires for revenge you may have harbored.  This will also let the people who you’ve forgiven know that you hold nothing against them.  When you forgive people, this does not mean that they will not face consequences for their wrongs.  They still will experience the repercussions of their errors.  At that point, what they will go through is out of your hands.  You’ve done your part and that’s all that matters.

Don’t spend the rest of your life thinking about ways you’re going to get revenge on your enemies. This is a complete waste of your time.  Your enemies have wasted enough of your time; therefore, don’t help them to waste more of it.

If you forgive a person for phenomena he or she has done to you, then you may discover that the act of forgiveness enables you to restore a relationship with him or her.  Forgiveness can, therefore, pave the way for necessary relationships to be mended.  It can also give you peace to deal with those relationships that need to end or remain severed.  In no way does having a forgiving heart mean that you have to let people run over you.  A forgiving heart permits you to recognize that human beings are fallible creatures needing to be forgiven because of their inability to achieve perfection.

Make an important decision to forgive everyone who has ever done you wrong.  If you really want to see maximum growth in your life, visit, call or write the people you’re forgiving to inform them that you’ve forgiven them and what you’ve forgiven them for doing and/or saying.  Be specific too.

We continue to have unproductive arguments and fights with one another because we’re too immature to resolve our issues through sincere and apt communication.

When you apologize to someone, don’t apologize because you got caught; apologize because you’re genuinely sorry. Faux apologizes will only exacerbate quandaries between you and others.  Many people will respond positively to authentic apologies.

Today, empower yourself by forgiving someone for his or her wrongdoings.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pushing People to the Breaking Point

Enemy Blood

Have you ever had a person who you’ve tried not to annihilate but he or she just will not stop attacking you?  There comes a point when people reach their breaking point with those who refuse to stop attacking them.  At some point, the person who is being attacked would like to think that his or her attackers would discontinue personal attacks.  Unfortunately, it’s often the case that one’s attackers will not stop.  Even the nicest person has a breaking point.  The breaking point is a point when those who have been attacked repeatedly are finally fed up with being assaulted in some way(s).

For those who are being attacked by others, I recommend that you try not to do things that will land you in jail or prison.  I do, however, understand if a person has caused you to think about doing something that could possibly put in you in jail or prison.  You shouldn’t allow a person to continue to assault you in any way.  Don’t even let someone repeatedly verbally assault you.  Whenever you discover someone is talking about you behind your back you need to address that person.  You shouldn’t think that what someone is saying about you isn’t going to have an impact on you, especially if the person is attempting to build a false narrative about you that could potentially damage your reputation.  Your reputation is one of the most valuable assets you have—protect it!

Although people will try to tell you to “overlook what others say about you” and “be the better person,” I’ve found these well-intentioned comments to be potentially harmful.  Act responsibly in defending yourself against attacks, but do what’s necessary to end these attacks and expose the credibility of the person attacking you.  For your attackers who are simply running their mouths, writing about you, and/or using social media to send indirect messages about you, don’t forget you have the ability to use those same tactics.  One powerful way to stop a coward who attacks you behind your back and/or through indirect social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and etc.) messages is to expose him or her!  Publicly promulgate things about the person that will shut him or her up forever.

While what I’ve said may not be exactly how the bible would inform you to handle your attackers, I will recommend that you give them as many warnings as necessary before you truly expose them.  The bible does teach us to warn before destruction.

Psalm 37:15: “Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.”  Let this article serve as a warning to those who recklessly attack people that you’re going to inevitably face destruction if you don’t stop doing the things you’re doing.  It’s not about the person being afraid of you or not being mentally, emotionally, and/or physically strong enough to deal with what you say about him or her; it’s more about the person simply being exhausted with what you’re saying, especially when he or she knows that you can be annihilated using one or more of the same tactics you’re employing.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Transparent, Direct and Substantive Critiques

Black Men Arguing

When you’re attempting to critique someone, be sure the critique is transparent, substantive and direct.  If you truly intend for the critique to have an impact on the individual, then deliver the critique directly to the person—not to someone else or through any other indirect communication medium.  Now, if you’re just blowing off steam, that’s one thing but if you have an authentic desire for your critique of someone to have a lasting effect, then you want to say what you have to say about the person via a face-to-face meeting, over the phone, email, or a letter.  In order to ensure what you have to say has substance, be as specific as possible about what you intend to communicate.

America is filled with too many people who are cowards.  If you’re going to “tell someone off,” when are you actually going to talk to that person directly?  Are you really “telling someone off” when you are talking about that person to everyone except that particular person?

Before your critique will have any significance, you’re going to need to shed any sugarcoated language that may be a part of the critique.  Stop worrying about hurting people’s feelings when you get ready to critique them.  If what you have to say is going to destroy a person’s life, then just allow it to destroy the person’s life; he or she is the one who is crazy for letting what you have to say destroy his or her life.

One way to shut someone’s mouth who is trying to critique you in a clandestine and malicious way is to engage that person in a public discourse.  If he or she is really interested in having a truly transparent conversation, then he or she will not mind having the needed conversation in front of an audience.  I’m a person who loves engaging in a public discourse with people who want to critique me, especially those who like to offer their critiques of me in devious and malevolent ways.  The more people listening to me really “let you have it” is always more interesting and fun for me.

It’s time out for playing games with people.  Don’t let someone verbally pound away at you indirectly.  When you’re able to recognize that someone is running his or her mouth about you in private to people, which can be made obvious by how certain people respond to you now and how they respond to that person, call that person out!  Stop letting people off the hook!

Do you really want to offer a critique about someone or would it be better for you to keep it to yourself?  Are you really prepared for the person’s rebuttal to your critique?  Is the reason why you will not give your critique to the person in a direct way a result of your cowardice?

You have to realize that people aren’t going to keep letting you say negative things about them and not eventually respond to you in ways you may not be ready to handle.  Think about the things you say and do before you let them go forth.

Be sure you have the appropriate evidence to substantiate what you have to say about someone.  The people you’re making angry might be able to respond to your critique with arguments and evidence of their own about you that can shut your mouth for eternity.  Again, think before you react!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Avoiding Problems Doesn’t Remove Them

Black Man

(Photo Credit: madamenoire.com)

If you keep running from your problems, you will never find a resolution to them.  When you try to pretend like your problems aren’t there, you’re only making them worse: the longer you avoid seeking solutions to your problems, the more difficult they become to address.  Too many people attempt to sham like they have conquered the quandaries that have given them the most pain.  It’s becoming popular for many people to say they’re “reinventing themselves,” “renewing themselves,” “living a new life,” and etc., but the reality is a true change in your life materializes conspicuous signs of change—not facades.  When many people say the aforementioned things, they’re making an effort to have others to believe their lies; they want others to think they’re living a life where they’re facing their problems directly when they’re not.

If you’re really “reinventing” yourself, “renewing” yourself, and “living a new life,” then why are there no substantive ostensible changes in your life?  Why are you unwilling to truly be yourself?  What continues to hold you back from real progress?  At the core of the answers to those questions is one’s intentional effort to run away from, hide, disguise, and bury his or her problems instead of working to defeat them.

You don’t have to live your life trying to hide and evade your problems; you can conquer them.  You must, however, be willing to deal candidly with those problems.  One can make serious progress toward remedying his or her quandaries when he or she musters the courage to confront them boldly.  Too many people attempt to bury their problems behind materialistic phenomena like money, cars, clothes, jewelry, houses, jobs, degrees, and etc., but trying to camouflage those things that are eating away at you will inevitably lead to your own undoing.

Although you may fool a number of people with your efforts to present your life as devoid of problems, the majority of folks know you have some problems—no matter what you say.  Everything’s not always going good for you.  Life exposes us to occasional challenges and problems, so don’t try to act like you’re so special and exempt for this reality.  When you invest significant time in trying to prove to others that you’re living a newly “invented” and “transformed” life, you already know authentic happiness doesn’t exist in your life, and you’re the one who is preventing real happiness from existing in your life.

Don’t allow pride to keep you from asking for help from others.  Additionally, don’t let your pride be the ultimate source of your problems.

It would be so much better to see someone truly living an ameliorated life than living a life of continuous lies; a life where one dons a faux happiness.  While things may not be going great for you right now, don’t try to pretend like they are.  Make a strong effort to engender the change in your life that will produce genuine positive results and progress—not results and “progress” that have to be fictitiously manufactured.

Boldly face your problems today and have a truly improved tomorrow.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Own Your Frustrations

Don’t take your frustrations out on others.  If there are specific people causing you to be frustrated, then direct your anger toward those individuals—not everyone else.  You have to learn how to take control of your emotions.  Your emotions are your emotions.  Don’t force everyone around you to have to deal with your problems.  When you’re having an unpleasant day, you shouldn’t try to make everybody else have an unpleasant day.  We can learn a significant amount about ourselves when we begin to think critically about how we handle being frustrated.  Just because you’re frustrated doesn’t give you valid justification to make drastic decisions.  When many people get frustrated, they start to acting like it’s the end of the world.

You have to understand that things are not going to go well for you every day.  If you’re an adult and claim to be mature, then you shouldn’t have to be told that everything is not always going to go well for you.

It’s okay to be frustrated from time to time—being frustrated is a normal part of the human experience.  You shouldn’t be frustrated all of the time, however.  If you’re frustrated all of the time, then you need to seek professional mental health treatment.  People should not shy away from getting mental health treatment.  One of the fundamental purposes of mental health treatment is to empower you with the ability to be in more control of yourself.

Don’t allow a frustrating day to become a serious crisis.  You have to understand that some things will happen and you will need to move on from those things.  Sitting around having a pity party is not going to change anything about your frustrations—it will only make things worse.  It’s very unattractive for you to resort to the most extreme measures when you’re going through frustrating moments.  People will begin to think that it’s best for them to not be around you.  You don’t want people to isolate themselves from you simply because you fly off the handle every time you’re frustrated.

Learn how to handle your problems responsibly.  If you need assistance with conflict resolution, please seek professional assistance.  You may even find it useful to speak with mature and successful people around you who can give you counseling about how to better deal with conflicts in your life.  If you’re always overreacting to problems you have in your life, then there’s something truly wrong with you mentally.  It’s okay to admit that you have mental problems.  By admitting that you have mental problems, you can get the help you need to address those problems.

Again, we all have been frustrated before.  Of course, we all would love to never experience frustration.  However, we know that we can never eliminate experiencing frustration.  How we respond to frustration is much more important than being frustrated.  Acting responsibly and maturely when you’re frustrated can help you to develop into a better person and allow you to discover things about yourself you didn’t even know.

Make every effort to stay in control of your emotions. Stop overacting.  Live responsibly.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison