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Posts Tagged ‘Proverbs 17:14; Proverbs 20:3; post office conflict; public disagreement; quarreling’

This morning, I went to the post office to mail a package and buy stamps.

This meant that I would have to wait in a long line, but I was up for it … I thought.

The line was long, with maybe 15 seniors ahead of me … but even though there are 4 “windows” at our post office, there were only 2 clerks.

Directly behind me in line was a young mother … holding a toddler while pushing a large stroller … trying to balance several packages on top of her stroller.

I mentally told myself, “When it’s my turn, I’ll let that mother go ahead of me.”

While we were waiting, a third clerk appeared and began waiting on customers on the far left side.

After interminable waiting, a customer left the third clerk’s station, and I was next … but first, I let the struggling mother go ahead, and she thanked me as she passed by.

I assumed she would go to the clerk on the left, but as she passed me, the middle window opened up, and she stopped there … so I went to the clerk on the left … who had now disappeared without warning.

I waited … and waited …and heard someone talking on the phone.

Finally, that third clerk appeared, and when she saw me, she asked, “Did I call you over here?”

I was startled.

I asked her, “What would you like me to do?”  I tried to explain that her window had been open … I didn’t know it had closed … I thought she would be there when I arrived … but she didn’t care.

Maybe I was supposed to wait until she said, “Next!”

I had violated some sort of unwritten protocol … like when George and Elaine visited the Soup Nazi and were told, “No soup for you!”

The clerk didn’t want to hear any explanations … and I was feeling very uncomfortable.  I’m not going to argue with a government employee in public … especially since I go to that post office all the time.

So I told her I would leave her station … told the next person in line to take my place … and got back in line and waited for another – more civil – clerk.

And when I did, I overheard that clerk talk to the next customer about me …  but I wasn’t going back to her window.

(I tend to be a charming and cooperative customer … unless my dignity is assaulted in public.)

When conflict arises – and it does nearly every day for most of us – God’s people need to be assertive (standing up for ourselves) without being aggressive (adding anger to assertiveness).

Theologian/author R. C. Sproul once visited a department store with his young daughter and felt that a clerk was treating him rudely.  Rather than address the clerk, Sproul said to his daughter – within earshot of the clerk: “When you grow up, I hope you learn to treat people with respect and dignity, unlike this clerk.”

Have you ever said anything like that?  I have … but there’s another way to handle things.

Proverbs 17:14 says, “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.”

Proverbs 20:3 adds, “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.”

If you find yourself in a conflict situation, and disagreement escalates into arguing, rather than fault the other person and exonerate yourself … sometimes the wisest course is to walk away.

Especially if you find yourself inside a government building.

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