Conflict, Don’t You Just Hate It?
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Conflict, we all experience it. It is a continual part of human experience that knows no gender, age, or racial limitations. It is also an area that most people are least prepared to handle properly or even handle at all when it takes place. It happens in the church, work place, the home, on the road, and with our friends. Wherever there are people there is conflict potential.
One day a pastor got a frantic phone call from a member of his congregation. The excited man exclaimed, “Pastor! Pastor! You have to help me. My wife is absolutely out of control and has gone completely historical on me.” The pastor replied, “You mean she has gone completely hysterical on you.” “No” the man responded, “I mean historical, she is attacking me with everything I have ever done wrong since we have been married.”
This humorous story illustrates well how many of us handle conflict. Rather than dealing with things as they happen on a daily basis, we have a tendency to suppress our feelings. When the fateful moment of conflict comes, there are machine gun blasts, mortar rounds, and rocket fire that cause the recipient to scream “ Incoming!” and dive into a fox hole for his/her life or to pull out his/her ammunition and return fire.
Some time ago I had a woman ask me to deal with a conflict between her and her friend. Before I agreed to do it I asked her if she had talked to her friend yet, to which she replied, “no.” She told me she was afraid her friend would become angry and that their relationship as friends would be damaged. She didn’t care if I got blasted. (he he!)
Conflict is risky and has a lot of fear connected with it. The fear of being hurt, rejected, disliked, being misunderstood, losing a relationship, and the fear of making things worse. Because of the potential for disaster, most view conflict as bad. But I say conflict is good. By good, I do not mean fun. Anyone who enjoys conflict is either a brick short of the pile or absolutely arrogant with little regard for others, but it is good in the since that if handled properly it can build trust and strengthen relationships. If one confronts another in a right spirit and rejection follows, in reality the relationship you thought you had was never really there. It is better to find it out now than later. Conflict is good because it helps us discover our inner weaknesses. The words that come out of our mouths, our actions, and attitudes are all indicators of the real condition of the heart. Conflict is a tool that God uses to show us our need for Him to develop godly character in those weak areas.
Due to a lack of space I can only list a few guidelines to help you resolve conflict in a biblical fashion. First, pray and get the beam out your eye if one is there. Secondly, go quickly and personally to the other party. Do not let the sun go down on your wrath. Thirdly, use a sandwich approach, begin with positive words, move to the problem, and then end on positive words of affirmation. Speak the truth in love. Fourthly, state the problem and make sure the other party agrees that what you stated is actually the problem. Fifthly, give them full opportunity to respond with no interruptions. Try to understand their side. Have a willingness to change your view. Sixthly, share with them the desired action you want them to take. At this point you will know if the conflict is resolved or not. If they refuse, you have fulfilled God’s requirements and must leave the rest in His hands. Often it takes time for people to come around. When they do, the relationship will be better, and you will be seen as a person of trust, love, and truth. May God help you to do the hard thing that most avoid.