When Showing Love Results in Conflict | The Hubs Report

Relationship Conflict Relationship Conflict

Have you ever hurt someone unintentionally while you were trying to show them love?

Joy and I serve together with the children’s ministry at our church in Dallas. One Sunday, during story time, a child was tugging on Joy’s jeans, trying to rip them apart. I thought that the best thing I could do to love Joy well was to walk over, pick up the child, and have the child pester me instead, so that is what I did. Afterward, I was so proud of myself for doing the right thing and making Joy’s night better.

During the rest of our time with the children that night, Joy appeared to be upset with me. Because I had just done something so chivalrous for Joy, I was quite confused. After the service, I asked Joy what was wrong. She told me that she viewed what I had done earlier as a demonstration of my lack of confidence in her ability to handle that situation and an interruption to the class. She thought that I was intervening to demonstrate my superior children’s ministry ability. I thought that I had made Joy’s night better, but I had actually made it worse.

That left me with a question that I have dealt with many times in my relationship with Joy and my relationships with others:

What should we do when our positive intentions lead to negative impacts?

That night, I did what came naturally to me; I got defensive. I told Joy all of the reasons why she shouldn’t be upset with me. Even more, I told her that I should be upset because she questioned my character. I argued and argued that I was right, but it didn’t change how Joy felt. No explanation of my intentions could take away the impact of my actions. Joy didn’t need to know that I was right, she needed to know that she is loved. I realized that the impact my actions had on her was more important than my intentions.

When my positive intentions lead to a negative impact, I get defensive and explain why I am right. In my fleshliness, I would rather be right than loving. I would rather be the good guy than the bad guy. It is always easier to say that the other person’s feelings are wrong than to humble myself and apologize for how I made that person feel, but which is the proper biblical response?

The answer is in the job description for husbands found in Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (ESV). Husbands are not called to defend themselves and their intentions, but to give themselves up for their wives. Husbands are called to be loving, not right.

In my sinful nature, I would rather be right than loving, but I have seen how that impacts my wife. Trying to make her understand my positive intentions doesn’t take away the negative impact of my actions. What does help to take away the negative impact of my actions is trying to understand why what I did caused the negative impact.

I have learned (and I am continuing to learn) that the best way for me to love Joy and to love others is not to try and make them understand me, but to try and understand them.

This lesson isn’t just for marriages, it is for all relationships. This does not come naturally, but when we embrace this truth, it will radically change our relationships. When we choose be loving rather than right, our lives and the lives of those around us will be transformed for the better.

What should we do when our positive intentions lead to negative impacts?

  1. We should humble ourselves and show love to the person we hurt by trying to understand them rather than trying to be understood by them.
  2. We should acknowledge that the impact we had on them is more important than our intentions.
  3. We should choose to be loving rather than right.

Remember, impact is more important than intentions. (TWEET THIS).

Action Step: If there is anyone whose feelings you have hurt even though your intentions were positive, I would encourage you to humble yourself, contact that person, apologize for the negative impact you had on them and try to understand why they were hurt. It may be difficult, but it will bring healing to that relationship.

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2 Comments on When Showing Love Results in Conflict | The Hubs Report

  1. Brianna K
    at (5 years ago)

    Well written, Zack! Thanks for the reminder that it is sometimes more important to show that we care, than to prove we are right.

    • Zack Skarka
      at (5 years ago)

      Thank you so much Brianna, I appreciate the encouragement!