Get That Log Out!

(This is the third lesson in our youth group series “United!” and was taught by Kevin Campbell. This post is based off what Kevin taught in youth group. Most of this series is based off materials produced by Peacemaker Ministries.)

What do people see when they come to YG. Do they see a united group, who enjoys being together and who cares for one another? Or do they see multiple cliques who meet in the same room at the same time, but who don’t interact? I certainly think that youth group should be different than your lunch room!

Conflict is a reality. It’s just going to happen, and you don’t know when. That’s why the first step towards unity is A Commitment to Glorify God. If we have a prayerful desire to glorify God in our daily lives, then we will respond to conflict in a way that leads to unity.

What are some things that cause conflict? Here are some of the things our students shared:

  • Siblings
  • Miscommunication
  • Personality differences
  • Hitting people
  • Insulting and being mean
  • Stress
  • Jealousy
  • Selfishness
  • The need to be right

Log Pile

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:1-5

Step Two: Get the log out of your own eye.
Do you have the gift of finding fault in others? Isn’t is so much easier to find fault in others than it is to see where we ourselves are wrong!? We need to be humble enough to deal with our own garbage before we try to point out other people’s junk.

The Bible teaches that “No one is righteous. No, not one!” (Romans 3:10). We are also commanded, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). Clearly, humility and putting others first matters to God!

C.S. Lewis summarized the teaching of another Christian pastor (Alexander Whyte) by saying this, ”The truth of the bad news is only outweighed by the truth of the gospel.”

We are not loved by God because we were too good to refuse. If there is something good and righteous in you, it’s only because of the work of God. And since God’s work isn’t finished yet, there’s still more in each of us that we need to confess and turn over to God. It is only because of Jesus that we have any hope.

How to Respond to Conflict
When conflict happens we tend to respond by going to our friends and telling them all about it. We are looking for their support, but what often happens is people pick sides. Your friends get your back, your “enemy’s” friends get his or her back.

This only leads to more division and more conflict. Instead, try this:

After a conflict, go out on your own and simply pray, “God, show me where am I wrong. Where is my attitude wrong? Do I have anything to apologize about?”

If you have a good friend who will be honest with you, getting someone else’s opinion could be helpful. Just remember, you’re not looking for someone to tell you what you want to hear, so be wise in who you talk to!

After you have really prayed this, journaled about it, and asked God how you can glorify him through this conflict… then get that log out of your eye so you can see clearly.

How to Start:

  1. Pray. Ask God to show you what you need to do admit about yourself.
  2. (optional, mostly if you aren’t sure if you’re understanding the real problem, and if you don’t see any place where you’re wrong.) Seek wise counsel. Emphasis on “wise” counsel! Don’t just talk to another friend. Ask someone you trust who is more mature and wiser than you. Explain the whole situation fairly enough that the other person involved would agree and say, “Yes, that’s what happened. That’s what I said.” Don’t describe the conflict in a way that automatically makes you right.
  3. Confess to God what you contributed to the conflict? Pride? Arrogance? Mean-ness? Gossip? Lies? Whatever it is… confess it to God, repent, and do what is right.

Finally, remember: This applies to your relationships with your family just as much as with your friends! Step three (what to do after removing the log) is coming next week… stay tuned!

(note: I preached on this passage at EBC a few years ago, you can read the sermon summary and find the audio here: Was Jesus Tolerant?)

The Best Leadership Lesson I’ve Ever Learned

When I was a teenager I remember hearing someone boast about how important they were at work. This person was someone I knew and looked up to since I was young, so I was really impressed. When I relayed the amazing news to my father he was less than impressed. What he said next is the single most important leadership lesson I’ve ever learned.

He simply replied, “If you’re important, you won’t need to tell anyone.”

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Dealing With Conflict

When I was in college I received a letter from another guy who lived a few rooms down from me. Although Craig and I weren’t good friends, we knew each other pretty well, which is why I was so upset about his letter. When I read it my first response was to show it to my friends and to rally the troops for war. Craig and I talked and I did my best to set him straight. Looking back on that conflict, I wonder how much my response proved him right.

It’s so much easier to completely reject or completely accept criticism than it is to figure out what nuggets of truth are mixed in with the rest. If we want to grow, we need to be willing to do the hard work of discerning what’s true from what’s not.

One of the most helpful questions to ask yourself when you’re dealing with conflict is this: “Is this conflict about my pride, or is there really something wrong that needs to be addressed?” When we’re focused on feeding our ego and protecting our pride we will only create more conflict. As we continue our series in Youth Group (United!), I want to share step one towards being a peacemaker and building a united group.

Conflict

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Playboy: A Victim of Its Own Success

It would seem like time to rejoice: Playboy will no longer be publishing pictures of nude women in their magazine. Instead, I think it’s time to mourn.

Their decision isn’t based on a change-of-heart towards the dignity of women. Instead, it’s their way of admitting that pornography is so easily accessible today (in large part because of the sexual revolution Playboy fueled) and it’s all free. They lose $3million every year in America because porn is so easy to find for free.

“That battle has been fought and won,” said Scott Flanders, the company’s chief executive. “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”

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Are You “In,” or Are You “Out?”

Have you ever played the game clumps? It’s a kids game where the game-leader calls out a number (“four!”) and everyone rushes to clump into groups of the right size. If you get left out of a group then you’re out. The game moves on for a few rounds or until there are only a few people remaining.

Doesn’t life feel like that sometimes? You’re “in,” or you’re “out.” You belong, or you don’t. The worst is when you’re surrounded by other people, but you’re really all alone. It’s a terrible feeling we’ve all experienced, and we want to make sure that no one ever feels that way at youth group.

Alone

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What Makes Porn So Harmful?

Pornography is never easy to talk about… it just makes everyone uncomfortable.

Maybe that’s because we all know that it’s wrong. Sometimes guilt is a good thing – in this case, it reminds us that we shouldn’t be doing something that we keep on doing! At the same time, let’s not allow our shame over pornography keep us from discussing a difficult topic. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more to pursue Christ, who purifies our hearts and gives us strength to resist temptation.

A lot of people might think, “What I do in private isn’t hurting anyone. Don’t tell me what to do.” That’s fine, except it’s not true. Porn causes harm. It rewires your brain and can be as addictive as heroin. It breaks relationships and changes how you view people of the other sex (whether you’re married or not, this is a very bad thing!). It can also lead to other emotional and mental problems, especially loneliness and depression. All those things aside, it is well documented that many of the women featured in pornographic videos have suffered physical and emotional abuse.

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How Temptation Becomes so Tempting

They say one of the best ways to win a battle is to understand your enemy. If you know how your enemy thinks and how they work then you’ll be able to come up with an effective strategy to fight victoriously.

Temptation…

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind? It’s probably something that you find tempting.

The very word brings up thoughts of struggle and indulgence. But what is it that makes temptation so tempting? There are a few things we can learn about temptation by looking in the Bible’s account of the first sin (Genesis 3:1-7).

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