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3 Tips for Handling Conflicts from the Trump-Kim Summit

Editor’s Note: This is a tongue-in-cheek take on the Trump-Kim Summit.

So, it finally happened. Yesterday (12 June) the world stopped as US president Donald J Trump met with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Un to hash out their plans for world peace.

There was a big build-up since the summit was first announced months ago, and the Donald and Kim kept us in suspense about whether it would go through. Will they or won’t they? The summit was on and off again, going through more cycles of uncertainty than my church repeating the chorus of Chris Tomlin’s masterpiece “How Great is Our God”.

At the end of it, we got a nice autographed joint declaration which reaffirmed the US and North Korea’s commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula as well as genuine hope for world peace. All a bit of an anti-climax, if you ask me.

Instead, it is this writer’s opinion that the real triumph of the summit was the progress they made in their friendship. I mean, did you see the warmth that the leaders displayed when they locked eyes and shook hands for the first time? What a moment.

How about when they sat side by side, tenderly signing their joint declaration? And don’t forget the earnest ‘working lunch’ they had where they were found staring kindly across the table at each other as they enjoyed their beef short rib confit.

It wasn’t just peace between nations that was forged that day; in the words of Trump, the duo “developed a very special bond”.

So, with all this bonding and friendship-making going on, wouldn’t it be a shame if the only takeaway from the summit was mere world peace? Instead, here are three things we learned about handling relationship conflicts from Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un:

1. Sometimes we just need to put away the technology and talk face-to-face

Did someone say “covfefe”? Nobody can deny that @realDonaldTrump is a prolific social media maven. But it was also social media that almost cost us this beautiful friendship. In the midst of their constant bickering through official state press releases, Trump helped to fight fire the only way he knew how—with fire—through his Twitter account. Some choice tweets include calling Kim the “little rocket man” as well as reminding the world about the big functioning nuclear button on his desk.

But look what happened when the Leader of the Free World put down his smartphone and met his North Korean counterpart in person.

Similarly, when we find ourselves in a conflict with someone, we might need to put down that phone and resolve things face-to-face. While technology has made things easier and communication faster, there’s nothing like a good ol’ man-to-man conversation. No harm opening in prayer and breaking some bread too—just look at the effectiveness of Trump and Kim’s working lunch. And to close, it would only be polite to bid each other farewell with a customary “the peace of the Lord be with you”.

 

2. When hashing out a conflict, find a neutral spot

Contrary to popular belief, Singapore isn’t in China. In fact, a quick Google search confirmed that Singapore is over 2,175 miles (or 3,500 km)  away from North Korea’s traditional ally; it’s actually a sovereign state all on its own. And as a sovereign state, Singapore has maintained diplomatic ties with both North Korea and the US—making it the perfect neutral spot for the summit to take place.

The same applies to us: it’s always helpful to find a neutral space to meet to resolve a conflict. Find a spot where neither you nor your friend feels threatened, where the both of you can relax and let your hair down. For the best results, ensure that you call the church keyboardist to play softly in the background. As he ushers in a time of quieting our souls, even the hardest of hearts will be softened.

 

3. It might help to get a third party involved

Having made considerable progress in diplomacy with North Korea, South Korea was trusted by Kim to deliver an invitation for the summit to Trump. On  8 March, when Trump accepted the invitation, the world rejoiced at the prospects of finally seeing a beautiful friendship blossom.

However, earlier last month when Trump called the summit off in retaliation to what he described as “tremendous anger and open hostility” from North Korea, many feared that our chances of seeing the Donald and the Supreme Leader together were over.

Enter South Korea. Their President, Moon Jae-in, helped to smooth things over between the two dignified statesmen and ensured that the summit would go ahead.

When it comes to our relationships, we can learn much from Trump and Kim’s nuanced approach. Look at Matthew 18:15-16, which highlights the usefulness of having an impartial go-between to mediate the disagreement. A helpful suggestion might be to get your youth pastor to serve as the third party. If he’s not too busy checking out the latest place to get artisan roasted coffee, it’s very likely that he’ll be available to referee the dispute.

If all else fails, and your friend is being particularly difficult, it might be time to follow what Jesus says in Matthew 18:17 and get the whole church involved. Hopefully then, the conflict will be resolved peaceably and we can all continue to co-exist as a big, happy family.

So, there we have it, this whole summit wasn’t a waste after all. Not only did we get that joint declaration, but we learned a lot about ourselves and how to handle relationships. I think we can echo Trump in saying it was “a tremendous success”.

 

For a more serious take on the Trump-Kim Summit, please read this article.

The Time I Hurt My Husband Deeply

My husband and I had a huge argument some nights ago. It was about my pride and unwillingness to see my own faults. He was so hurt that he went straight to bed after his shower. For the first time in the six years we had been together, he had not insisted we resolve our argument first before the day ended.

Truth be told, many unpleasant thoughts came to my mind while I was taking my shower that night. Those thoughts assured me that I was right and had done no wrong. In fact, my self-righteousness even led me to believe that my husband was in the wrong and that I ought to forgive him when he apologized to me—because that’s what Christians do.

But when I came out of the shower and saw him already in bed, my initial readiness to forgive him vanished immediately. I started boiling inside. “How can he go to bed without talking to me?” I thought to myself. “Does he not care about us anymore?” As I went about my usual bedtime routine—drying my hair and closing the windows—my mind was filled with all the faults he had committed.

I switched off the lights, sat on the bed, turned to my husband and looked at him. All of a sudden, I felt a wave of sadness wash over me. For the first time, I realized the hurt that I had caused him. What had I done to the man that God had chosen and blessed me with? Where was the godly wife that God had called me to be?

I started to pray. I asked God to remove my pride and self-righteousness so that I could see my sins clearly. I asked Him to guide me away from all my sinful ways and to make me more like Jesus.

When I woke up the next morning, my husband didn’t say a word to me. Again, this was a first in our relationship. I found myself trying to break the ice. As I got him to start talking, I realized the deep hurt I had caused him. There was no way I could justify myself to him.

I had run out of moves; I was desperate. So I did the only thing I could think of: I asked if he would pray with me. He prayed a very short prayer, which showed how exhausted he had been from the argument. I prayed after, confessing my faults before God and my husband, asking God to change my ways and make me a better person.

I thank God for always being faithful and merciful towards us. He immediately softened my husband’s attitude towards me and we shared a long hug before he left for work. I was relieved to see his beautiful smile and loving eyes once again.

After he had left for work, I reflected on all that had happened. It brought me to this realization: It is good, and it is right to pray—especially in such situations. And an effective prayer is one where we come before God and repent of our sins, not one where we ask God to change the situation or the other person. Also, we need to pray for each other and confess our sins to one another so that we may be healed (James 5:16).

As a human, I know that I will sin again. But I also know now that when that happens, my first response ought to be this: to confess my sins before God and to others. 1 John 1:9-10 says, “For if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

This is the hardest article I have ever written. After all, it does seem “disgraceful” to tell others of our sins—what more to have it down in black and white as a permanent record. But what’s even more disgraceful is this: not to give God the full glory when He—and He alone—truly deserves it. God had prompted me to share my experience, which I hope will encourage you in your own relationships, whether it is with your parents, children, friends, or even colleagues. To God be all glory!

ODJ: valued

October 17, 2015 

READ: 1 Samuel 26:1-25 

May the LORD value my life, even as I have valued yours today. May he rescue me from all my troubles (v.24).

We anticipated an amusing evening at church. Whether it would be the antics of our own kids or someone else’s, we were confident the child driven event would elicit laughter. Sure enough, laughter rang out, but my husband and I sat stunned and tried to hide our dismay. What had appeared to others as a funny comment had actually been a joke at my husband’s expense. Though we had felt tension with the couple in charge of the programme, the episode exposed the depth of the chasm.

Conflict invariably enters our relationships. The greater revelation of our spiritual maturity is not if we ever experience it, but rather how we handle it. If we don’t understand our identity outside of others’ opinions, then every disagreement becomes personal. This lack of security was the very thing that plagued Saul and caused him to treat David as a threat rather than a son (1 Samuel 18:7-11, 26:25).

But when our identity is rooted in God and His view, then we’re free to love others and work through conflict in a positive way. As Solomon wrote, “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones” (Proverbs 14:30, see also 15:1, 29:8). Though Saul was trying to kill him, David gained the victory when he honoured God by sparing the troubled king’s life. David understood that he didn’t have to destroy someone else to feel stronger or more self-assured.

When we understand the meaning of the cross, we value the lives of those who seek to destroy us or our reputations, whether or not they will ever value ours. God’s love compels us to do as Jesus instructed in Mark 12:30-31: love Him with every part of who we are and love others as we love ourselves.

—Regina Franklin

365-day-plan: Acts 7:30-60

MORE
Read Philippians 4:1-2 and consider what Paul was asking Euodia and Syntyche to do. 
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How can we be honest with people in times of conflict while also speaking the truth in love? How can we show respect to others in a practical manner even when we disagree with them? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: one mission

September 4, 2014 

READ: Luke 9:46-62 

But Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you” (v.50).

My husband and I often must act as referees while moderating the differences between our two offspring. They focus on what makes them different instead of what unites them. We frequently remind the two that they need each other—something that’s hard for them to see.
The body of Christ is often recognised more for its divisions than its unity in Jesus. Whether the disagreement centres on denominations, philosophies of ministry or worship styles, the battles can be fierce.

As Luke 9 illustrates, the struggle isn’t a new one. While the disciples may have been trying to protect the integrity of Jesus’ ministry, their desire for distinction went beyond a passion for truth. Telling Jesus, “We told him to stop because he isn’t in our group”, they drew a line of separation Christ had not drawn (v.49).

Looking at this passage, we see an interesting pattern in the accounts. Notice verses 46-48 where Jesus redirects the disciples because they’re wrongly positioning themselves for importance. A little later on, they again take up the wrong view in wanting to call down fire on those who had rejected Christ (vv.52-54). Unlike other casual followers, the disciples were committed to following Christ (v.62). But their radical faith didn’t guarantee that their perspective always revealed the full picture (1 Corinthians 13:12).

We can’t compromise the truth of salvation through Jesus alone. But when it comes to the unity of believers, we must remember: His body was broken and His clothes were divided so that His church wouldn’t have to be (1 Corinthians 13:13; Ephesians 2:14; Colossians 1:16-20).

—Regina Franklin

365-day plan› Luke 20:20-40

MORE
Read Numbers 11:16-30 and ask God to show you the times you’ve wrongly judged His work in and through others. 
NEXT
Who are some believers in Jesus you don’t want to be identified with? What is at the root of your issue(s) with them? When should we disagree, and when should we choose to defer in love? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)