Paul Knew His Pigtails

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

(This is the fourth in a series of posts from Philippians 4 on dealing with church conflict).

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5

I believe unresolved anger is one of the big obstacles to the church today.  I find it to be especially problematic in conflicted congregations.  It is awfully difficult to effectively communicate with one another when one side of the issue is constantly pushing the buttons of the other side.  It makes this notion of gentleness a tall order.

pigtailsI remember how hectic Sunday mornings could be when my girls were little.  While Mom was still getting ready, it often became my job to figure out the girls’ hair (usually just a rubber band or two would do the trick).  The problem, of course, was that their hair was often a tangled mess…we never could seem to impress upon them how much easier it would be if they actually brushed it out at night before they went to bed.  And so, usually running woefully late for church already, and more than just a little frustrated by the tangled mess in front of me (it always reminded me of trying to grab a wire clothes hanger out of the closet but finding it all tangled with the other hangers…frustrating may be a bit of an understatement) I would grab a brush, grab a girl, and start brushing.  Not long into the hurried event, there would often be tears and great wailing and gnashing of teeth, followed by a poignant look from their mother…it’s a look I’ve come to fear over the years.  It is a look that shamed me into submission and gentleness on more than a few occasions in our marriage.  And by the way, I learned to do awesome pigtails in the process.

You see, as long as it was all about me and my schedule and my convenience, gentleness was nowhere to be found.  But when I was (gently) reminded to consider how the other person was feeling, gentleness was much easier to come by.

St. Francis of Asisi prayed, “Lord, help me more to understand than to be understood.”  That, it seems to me, is central to the whole concept of gentleness…taking the time to fully understand where the other person is coming from, what is causing his/her pain.  Chances are, find the root cause of the other person’s pain and you will find it much easier to let the Spirit’s gentleness lead out in your relationship with that person.

This is some fantastic counsel from Paul, who just wanted us to navigate our way through conflict  (and pigtails) in a way that brings honor and glory to God.

© Blake Coffee

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on this website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Blake Coffee.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: © Blake Coffee. Website:

%d bloggers like this: