We’ve all been there—in the heat of the moment when our blood is beginning to boil, we want to reach out and shake the person we are talking to and make them see things our way… We find ourselves in the middle of a conflict.
Unfortunately, not many people know how to deal properly with this situation. It’s easy to fall into the world’s way of handling conflict, which is far removed from God’s way. Nonetheless the Scripture remains clear; we are called to walk in harmony with one another.
Love People, Not Opinions
What will really help you in dealing with conflict is a commitment to love people more than you love your own opinions. When you would rather protect your opinions than let go of them to benefit or bless another person, you can be assured that problems are going to arise out of that situation. Be willing to yield to reason. Don’t be dogmatic.
Thomas Jefferson made the statement that when it comes to matters of principle, defend it “to the t,” but when it comes to the matters of preference, flow with the stream. I consider that very good advice. Opinions can produce unnecessary conflict. Love people more than your opinions.
When it comes to conflict resolution, give others the benefit of the doubt. If you do not have hard evidence about a situation, do not be suspicious, thinking the worst of someone. That is the world’s way. God says we’re to be merciful, and that means we’re to give others the benefit of the doubt.
Learn to be flexible. Someone will have a better idea than you. If that is the case, don’t be so rigid in your approach to organization or ministry that you cannot change. We are creatures of habit. We tend to fall into patterns of behavior we are comfortable with. When someone comes up with a better idea than yours—which will happen frequently because there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors (Pro. 11:14)—go with the flow. It will often be what is best for the organization.
A Way of Escape
The Bible says we are to die to self, but the truth is that God created us with an ego. Sometimes we can abuse that and become self-centered in our activities, because our self-identity is important to us. If you need to confront someone, don’t back him or her into a corner and not give that person a way to save face. Otherwise, you will destroy any possibility of working with that person again. Always provide a way of escape if you need to confront someone.
Fire Starter or Firefighter?
Check your own attitude. When it comes to conflict resolution, do you have many conflicts going on lately? Is this getting to be the rule rather than the exception?
Some people never have any conflict; other people always have a fire burning somewhere. If you always have conflict going on, there is a pretty good possibility the problem is with you. You will have to do some serious self-examination, because conflict should be the exception rather than the rule.
Let me give you a few more tips about handling conflict. Don’t overreact. I know the heat of the moment always makes the issue seem more significant than it is. That is why the Bible says in James 1:19 to be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. In some instances, you maybe shouldn’t respond at all. There may be a little ripple on the pond, but you will magnify it by giving it attention. Know when you have to respond, and do not overreact when you do.
View conflict as an opportunity to learn, and it will help you avoid the tendency to avoid conflict. Use it to sharpen your skills as a communicator, to improve someone’s performance in the kingdom of God, and to move the organization ahead.
Lastly, when it comes to conflict resolution, always be a risk taker. Risk being wrong. Risk the unpleasant words that might come. Risk someone’s anger. Risk being the one to step out and resolve the conflict. Don’t ever let fear cause you to stand back and let conflict go unresolved. That will always do more harm than good.
Conflict is never enjoyable, but it is something that we all encounter. We need to learn to deal with it properly so we won’t be caught following the world’s way when the heat of a moment begins to rise.