Conflict in life is unavoidable. It is impossible for us to agree with everyone, all the time. Ministry and church life are not exempt from conflict, differing viewpoints and opinions.
What Causes Conflict?
The bible says in James 4:1 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” Our desires include our values, perceptions, ideas, wants or motivations. Conflicts arise when our desires conflict with those of others.
How Should Christians Deal with Conflict?
Jesus dealt with many conflicts during his 33 years on earth. When involved in a conflict, Jesus was consistent with His nature of love, He told the truth in love. When speaking to the Pharisees, the strong language Jesus used was not meant to shame them, but served as an invitation for them to see the error of their ways, and to follow Him.
Isn’t Speaking God’s Truth Being Judgemental of Others?
Our culture has bought the lie that if you disagree with someone, you are rejecting or hating the person. This could not be further from the truth. We can disagree with someone’s actions or behavior, while still loving or caring about the person. The truth is, that when we love or care about someone, we want the best for them. If we didn’t care about someone, it would be easier to say nothing.
The next time you are involved in a conflict, try these 10 conflict resolution tips ….
1. Take it to God First
⦁ Talk to God about the conflict and what you are feeling.
⦁ Ask God for wisdom to identify what is going on inside you, and how to proceed.
⦁ Seek to identify if the current conflict has triggered in you a hurt from the past. If so, you may need to seek help of a professional counsellor to help you identify and deal with the past hurt, before you can address the current issue.
⦁ Pray for the other person or persons involved (it’s hard to be mad at someone when you are praying for them).
2. Pay attention to your feelings
⦁ Feelings are not right or wrong. They are neutral.
⦁ Feelings are indicators that something is wrong, needs fixing or addressing.
⦁ While anger is often the first emotion experienced in conflict, we can’t stay there. The bible says “In your anger do not sin” Eph. 4:26 NIV
3. Seek to control your emotions and behavior
⦁ In the heat of the conflict, stop to take a few deep breaths.
⦁ While anger may alert us to address a problem, anger must lead to calm, helpful action.
⦁ It has been proven that when we are angry our IQ decreases. This explains why people often do or say unintelligent things when acting in anger. Be smart, stay calm!
⦁ “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Ephesians 4:31 NIV
4. Practice what you might say to the person
⦁ If appropriate, pause the conversation and take time to think about what you need to say before responding. Book a time to talk, after you’ve had time to process.
⦁ Practice what you’d like to say on a friend or your spouse without breaking confidences.
5. Seek to communicate clearly and effectively
⦁ Speak in a calm tone, in words and language the other person relates to. For example, some people relate best to the bottom line, word pictures, in their love language etc.
⦁ “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.” Proverbs 12:18 NKJ
6. Listen for what is felt and said (seek to identify the real issue)
⦁ Listen for the heart of what the other person is saying.
⦁ Remember that the issue is problem, the other person is not the problem.
7. Keep short accounts
⦁ Address the issue with the person as soon as possible.
⦁ Undealt with conflicts can result in bitterness, broken relationships, and stress.
8. Pick your battles
⦁ Know when to speak up.
⦁ If you have already talked through an issue with the same person many times, you may need to stop talking and just take it to prayer.
9. Know when to let it go
⦁ When you are having conversations in your head with other person, it is time to let it go.
⦁ When you have done everything you can to live at peace with someone, and the issue is still unresolved, place the issue in God’s hands and leave it there until He instructs you to take a next step.
10. Be willing to forgive
⦁ The bible says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 NIV
⦁ Sometimes it is better to be good than to be right.
⦁ Don’t let conflicts fester. Do your part and then turn the conflict over to God.
My First Steps for Vibrant Ministry Workshop includes a whole session on dealing with conflict. Check out First Steps here.
Check out my FB group Purposeful Women’s Ministry Canada