Bitter Rivalries and Broken Relationships


What happens when you combine hearsay with  presumption and a blend in some deep-seated animosity? You get an angry reaction – much like Clemson’s Dabo Swinney’s unfounded anger and rant against The University of South Carolina’s football program earlier this week.

Swinney has a reputation for being a fine coach and an even better man. His reaction was to what he had been told “The Old Ball Coach” of The University of South Carolina, Steve Spurrier, posted on Twitter.

Actually, what had been tweeted was not what Spurrier had said at all. He had not mentioned Clemson. The person who sent the tweet added the phrase provoking Swinney and the Clemson family.

Upon learning that he had been mistaken, Swinney pointed out the steps Spurrier should have taken to clear up the matter. At least in one response, he did not initially express any regret over his own comments.

As though the instate rivalry needed any fuel, Swinney’s comments naturally fanned the flame. The sometimes not-so-friendly feud among palmetto state residents has it’s highs and lows. Swinney’s comments may give ammunition to Carolina fans, it may be amusing to some, but I don’t believe it is a high point – for either side.

Swinney was right in saying, “And I don’t know if he really said that or not. I guess he did. There’s been no rebuttal. But if said that it’s disappointing to be honest with you. Because I was taught to win or lose with class. That’s kind of a childish thing to put out there, to be honest with you.”

Wise words. “IF” he said it. Who could find fault with this reaction. Unfortunately, he didn’t stop there. He began a diatribe against USC and Spurrier that was unwarranted.

This does not change my opinion of Swinney or Spurrier. Who has not said something that they should not have said? That’s true in sports rivalries. It’s true among friends, families, coworkers…and it’s true among believers.

One of the main causes of problems in a marriage is communication. Sadly, the same is true in churches. Only God knows how His mission is hindered and his people are hurt because of dissension among Christ-followers.

There will always be differences among fallen people. Good people disagree. Tragically, many times we don’t know how to prevent and heal offenses. We don’t know how to “agree to disagree agreeably.”

We can prevent many unnecessary hurts and misunderstandings if we will follow these Seven Simple Principles for Peaceful Relationships:

  1. Be Gracious – True or not, does it really matter? Can you not simply overlook it? There are few issues for which we should fight.
  2. Believe the Best – Think the best of someone until you are forced to think otherwise.
  3. Check Your Facts – Before you declare someone “guilty” would the evidence stand up in court? Too many people are “convicted” on hearsay evidence. Even if a trusted friend says something they could be mistaken.
  4. Don’t Rely On Feelings – Emotions can mislead us.
  5. Don’t Judge What You Can’t Judge – Only God knows our hearts. Resist the temptation to presume you know someone’s motives
  6. Go to the Source – If necessary, confront the one who supposedly caused the offense. Don’t go angry. Only when you can humble yourself, be peaceful, and truly listen. Swinney suggested Spurrier should have called him. Could Swinney not have made a personal call to his colleague and simply ask him?
  7. Forgive – God is well able to defend you, clear up misunderstandings, and deal with people who do wrong. Give it to Him and forgive as He forgave you.

God help us to heal the bitter rivalries and broken relationships in our churches! Our enemy is not each other, but the Evil One.

“I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message.21 May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be onein Us, so the world may believe You sent Me.”                                                                                                     -Jesus (John 17:20-21 HCSB)



Internet: accessed December 2, 2011.
Internet:–?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Cbc%7Clarge accessed December 2, 2011.
Internet: accessed December 3, 2011.
Internet: accessed December 3, 2011.
This entry was posted in Challenge, Church Health, Communication, Discipline, Dissension, Division, Family, Gossip, John, Personal Growth, Rumor, Slander and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Bitter Rivalries and Broken Relationships

  1. Frank Gantz says:

    Wise words, Mark. That is one of the best lists/steps I’ve read. Thanks for the reminder.

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