Either we manage conflict or conflict manages us.
God doesn’t call us to like conflict but He definitely calls us to work through it with His strength. Loving relationships require healthy conflict resolution. Recently, I overheard a friend of mine tell another friend of mine, “Don’t waste your conflict. Conflict plus love equals growth.”
A few months ago, I spoke at a weekend retreat about this very issue. These are some simple thoughts that I shared.
1. Grow up in the Lord. Examine the scriptures. Examine yourself. What do you do with conflict? What does God’s Word say about resolution? God calls us to mature, not just grow old and get stuck with our wrong ideas.
2. Sit down with the person/party. Resolve conflict over coffee, not over email. No conflict ever gets better by leaving it alone. No relationship improves with neglect. Don’t just hope things will get better. “Let’s talk” means that the relationship is worth keeping.
3. Seek to understand first, then be understood. Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen so that they can reply. They are either speaking or preparing to speak. Recognize that you are filled with your own rightness. Perception is seldom truth.
4. Attack the issue, not the person. Identify your natural conflict responses. Learn the skills of talking through an issue.
5. Take responsibility for your part in the conflict. Humble yourself. Confess. Apologize. “I’m sorry but…” is not an apology.
6. Trust and hope. Love always trusts and hopes.
Somewhere in my journeys, I learned this little acronym. When someone offends you,
P – pinpoint the problem
E – engage the offender in dialogue
A – address the issue
C – consider his/her response
E – extend forgiveness
Simple ideas . . . but tough to act on without Jesus.
So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Romans 14.19
Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34.14