Thursday, May 26, 2011

When conflict arises . . .

Conflict is part of life. We will have conflicts in our homes, marriages, workplaces, and in our churches. Conflict is not an evil in itself (and can actually bring about great good), unfortunately we often turn  ugly on each other. I'm as guilty of this as anyone since I'm still trying to learn that most (most!) of the great answers are not in my head. Here are 8 Biblical lessons Gordon and Gail MacDonald draw out in their book If Those Who Reach Could Touch on how to deal with conflict (slightly reworded for clarity and with some explanation):

1) Each side must genuinely respect the opinions and judgments of the other. Not because the opinion or judgment may be brilliant, but because the people who hold them are valuable to God.
2) Relationships are more important than victory in a conflict. The constant need to be "right" can end up being very destructive to those around us.
3) Compromise should be on the table (at least at first). A few issues in the world fall into the non-negotiable category. Many are negotiable and it is only in our shortsightedness and arrogance that we refuse to budge, claiming, "It's the principle of the matter." Don't fear compromise.
4) Unresolved conflicts will fall into the wrong hands. In other words, if conflict is not resolved, it usually spreads . . . sometimes spreading to those who will be hurt or hurt others far more than those originally in the conflict. Pursue reconciliation to avoid the spreading of poison among relationship circles.
5) Anger has no place in conflict except to provide energy toward finding truth. Anger is often a key motivating to pursuing truth and righteousness, but it needs to be controlled and directed at the solution and not toward a person.
6) There is a kernel of truth in virtually every point made in conflict. I'm finding this to be more and more true, especially if I'm willing to listen to people's emotions as well as the informational content.
7) Confession and forgiveness are an indispensable part of the resolution of conflicts. I often refuse to confess or seek forgiveness because I'm afraid of looking like a loser.
8) When conflict is handled properly, everyone grows. If we handle conflict well, everyone involved grows. We will know each other better. We will understand the conflict and related issues better. It also is very self-revealing, for we find the things we care most about and the areas where we are most vulnerable.

So let the conflict begin (for in fact bottling up emotions and frustrations is quite deadly), but let Christ's love reign.

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