The Soil From Which Relational Friction Grows


Who is currently frustrating you? Take a minute and give it some thought. If you are a pastor it might be a parishioner. If you are a parishioner it might be your pastor. It doesn’t matter who you are, chances are, someone right now, at this very moment, frustrates you.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with frustration. Frustration is just a feeling, the feeling we feel from being upset or annoyed when something, or someone, prevents us from achieving something important to us. And have you noticed that often times the people who frustrate us (and we them) are those who are close to us? Someone once said, “Forget your enemies. It’s your friends you frustrate that cause all the problems.” How true.

But here’s the thing about frustration. Frustration leads to irritation, and irritation is the soil from which relational friction grows, which, undealt with, eventually results in separation.

Think about the last separation you had to endure. There’s a good chance it can be traced back to frustration, which led to irritation, which led to relational friction, which ended in separation.

Since this is true, whether we are a pastor or parishioner, we must act upon feelings of frustration quickly or else they will build into something bigger and more difficult to deal with. Don’t underestimate frustration. Don’t minimize these feelings. Don’t let one thing lead to another.

Here are some questions you might ask yourself when you recognize you are frustrated:

1. Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

2. Is there any way in which I might have contributed to the thing in the other person that is now frustrating me?

3. Do I need to secretly forgive the person and let it go?

4. Do I need to talk to the person about what they did that frustrated me?

5. Will talking to the person only make matters worse?

6. Is there any way in which I can talk to this person without making matters worse?

7. Am I really, really sure this isn’t really about me rather than them?

Here are some questions you might ask the person you might think is frustrated with you:

1. Maybe I’m reading you wrong but am I frustrating you? (This is a better question than, “Are you frustrated?” because “Are you frustrated” puts the blame on the person we are trying to clear the air with.)

2. Will you accept my apology?

3. How might I prevent this from happening again?

Are you frustrated? Is someone frustrated with you? Deal with it early on. You don’t want frustration to lead to irritation, irritation to friction, and friction to separation. The Apostle Paul said, “As much as it depends upon you, be at peace with all people.” (Romans 12:18)