Athlete, Resolve Relational Friction


Athlete, Resolve Relational Friction

Tom Petersburg

Colossians 3:12,13 (NASB)

And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

A team for which I had served as chaplain for several years signed a new head coach. He came from a team where Christian players were in constant conflict in the locker room over everything from music to doctrine to the team ministry. 

Given his previous experience, I was uncertain how he would view the ministry on his new team.

In our first meeting, I quickly found how determined he was to prevent the same disruption here. He began to pound his fist on the desk, loudly declaring, “This is a workplace …!” 

As I agreed with his concern, we settled into a good conversation about his past locker room. Differences between Christians became a flashpoint for verbal battle. It damaged their testimonies, influence, team unity and most of all their relationships.

We may not find ourselves in the depth of contention that festered in that coach’s former locker room, but unless you hibernate alone in the Alaskan tundra, you will experience relational friction. It is a lifelong battle.

Colossians 3 calls for kindness, compassion and patience in our relationships. It stems from two critical actions — bearing with and forgiving. 

Bearing literally means forbearing or “putting up with” others. Forgiving is not holding an offense against another person. The alternative is to keep score, nurse the hurt and plan for payback.

When there is significant injury done in a relationship, we need to address it with the other person. It requires humility to both give and receive input. Forgiveness is the biblical alternative to stowing away the recurring offenses that give birth to bitterness and resentment.  

Relational friction is inevitable, a lifelong battle. Following biblical admonitions has the potential of maintaining better relationships. Better locker rooms, too.

Tom Petersburg  |


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