As we continue to discuss necessary heart dispositions for conflict resolution, one characteristic is equally essential and difficult. This characteristic is gentleness. If a spouse, worker, parent, or child finds himself or herself in many conflicts, you can assume that he or she lacks gentleness. If biblical counselors lack gentleness, they can escalate conflicts or harm their counselees, especially when stepping into a counselee’s sinful mess. What principles should guide how we think about cultivating gentleness for conflict resolution?
In this week’s episode of the Biblical Counseling Podcast, Pastor Jeff Christianson and his wife, Jennie Christianson examine the heart disposition of gentleness. Gentleness is essential to conflict resolution. God calls biblical counselors to care for their counselees with gentleness. Everyone knows the care and gentleness needed by doctors and surgeons in handling, repairing, and restoring the wounds of their patients. A careless surgeon can seriously harm a patient. As counselors conduct heart surgery--addressing and caring for the thoughts, fears, wounds, and worries of their counselees--counselors will harm their counselees if they lack gentleness.
Biblical counselors must excel in gentleness for the sake of their counselees. At the same time, biblical counselors must model gentleness, since gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit. If a counselor lacks gentleness, he is not mature enough to serve as a representative of the Wonderful Counselor.
Pastor Jeff and Jennie share three important reflections on gentleness in conflict resolution:
First, Pastor Jeff and Jennie remind listeners that gentleness is the opposite of strife, wrath, or being pushy. The flesh produces strife, wrath, and a pushy approach to care, while the Spirit produces patience and gentleness. Do you want the Holy Spirit present in the counseling room? If you cultivate the spiritual fruit of gentleness, your gentleness in the counseling room is a work of the Spirit and bears witness to the Spirit’s presence with you as you counsel. As you walk by the Spirit and let the water of the Word wash over you, you will cultivate gentleness rather than strife and wrath.
Second, Pastor Jeff and Jennie share reflections on gentleness and anger. Christians can cultivate gentleness through controlling and defusing their anger. If you feel anger rising within you, gain composure before opening your mouth. Gentle people use self-control to restrain anger. Moreover, gentle people are quick to forgive and to overlook offenses. They keep themselves from meditating upon the frustrating actions of others. Christians who demonstrate gentleness also take the less-travelled road of humility.
Third, our hosts share this important principle: gentle people are willing to consider their own contribution to a conflict. Even if someone fails to exercise gentleness in a conflict, you will see the Spirit cultivating gentleness in a believer when a believer stops and reflects upon his or her contributions to a conflict.
Counselors help their counselees cultivate gentleness. They point their counselees to the Word and guide their counselees in developing an active walk with the Lord. By walking with the Spirit, counselees slowly grow in gentleness.
Want to learn more? Listen to this podcast to hear Pastor Jeff and Jennie address:
- Key components of gentleness
- Illustrations of gentleness in the counseling room
- Counselor insights into cultivating gentleness in counselees
What You'll Discover in this Episode:
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