How To Handle Conflict
Conflicts are a part of everyday life. When I wake up in the morning there can be conflicts at home. When I go to work, there is conflict at the office. When I go to church, there is conflict there. When I go to the store, there is conflict there. When I go to the mission, there is conflict there. Everywhere I turn, there is conflict.
Unfortunately, nobody thinks about how they will handle a conflict until they are in the middle of the battle and tempers flare, things are said, inappropriateness has already occurred, and not one thought as to how God would have his children conduct themselves has happened.
Even in ministry, where people are united for a common goal, when the stress of life, and decisions, and differences in personalities, when these all come together you have a recipe for conflict.
Conflict isn’t bad in itself, but how we handle conflict can be good or it can be bad. Conflict isn't the same as strife either. Conflict is opposition or disagreement, where as strife adds the components of anger and bitterness.
Why Is There Conflict?
Conflict happens when two or more people disagree about how something is being done, how something is being paid for, how something looks, how someone acts, ect.
When I was growing up, our church had these long business meetings where everyone wanted their way and we’d start around 5:00 in the afternoon and these meetings would go till 11:00 at night. Nobody was ever happy. One year we decided we needed a lawnmower, but we couldn’t agree on which one, so it was postponed till the next year. Well, the next year rolled around and we still needed the lawnmower, and it came down to a color choice and a fight broke out… while nobody was happy, it was one of the more memorable business meetings I ever went to.
How Should We Handle Conflict?
Now I’m assuming that people that are listening right now are saved and are following Jesus, because if you’re not, then you have bigger problems than how you handle conflict.
Now I've found 9 points on how to handle conflict based on the Bible that I would encourage you to study before you have to face a conflict so you will already have your mind fixed on how God want's us to conduct ourselves, so when conflict arises you will be prepared.
1. First, do nothing.
Take a break, think it through, and pray about your response. Phillipians 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Ask God to help you love and value the other person as His unique creation. If we pray and think before responding, right off the bat we may prevent crucial mistakes in relationship building.
2. Exhibit self-control.
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Angry responses do not honor Christ. We are encouraged to respond slowly to conflict rather than acting on impulse, resulting in regret. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check.”
3. Stop, think—and pray.
How does God look at this situation? How does He view the other person? He is a God of wisdom and compassion. Seek to exemplify those traits. Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. What does He want to happen in your relationship as you deal with this issue? Could this be a growing experience for all parties involved?
4. Ask, Is the issue worth pressing?
Is it worth your time and effort, or is it of no real consequence? Count the cost. If resolution does not count in the long run, perhaps you should overlook it and go to more important issues.
5. Evaluate your own attitudes, and possible wrongs in the conflict.
Matthew 7:5 admonishes, “First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Is the problem more yours than the other person’s? Prayerfully seek God’s perspective about your role and why you feel as you do about the situation.
6. Follow scriptural principles.
Once you’ve considered the previous elements, seek God’s direction for handling the resolution process. Matthew 18:15-20 provides direction for approaching someone we feel has instigated the problem. Face-to-face confrontation is not easy. Share feelings and viewpoints honestly and in love. Listen carefully and acknowledge each other’s feelings and opinions. Remember: attack the problem, not the person. Rather than addressing old issues, focus on the current issue and ways to resolve the problem. Praying together is a positive way to initiate resolution.
7. Ask questions for clarification.
State the problem, assimilate facts, and clearly define issues. Do not assume that you have all of the facts or understand the other persons perspective before you ask. Is it miscommunication or incorrect information? Who else or what other factors are involved? Complete research before meeting.
8. Take time to discover together things on which you can agree.
Then evaluate the big picture—how does this situation affect the ministry? The church? The family? Others around you? Brainstorm possible solutions that will result in mutual benefits.
9. Take some time apart.
Think through the possible solutions and pray separately. Come back together to determine actions to take. Be willing to admit individual mistakes and failures that might have contributed to the problems. Ask for and give forgiveness where necessary. What if this approach doesn’t work? If anger erupts, language is inappropriate, the person is unreasonable, or she won’t listen, you may need to take a different approach. Matthew 18:16 provides direction. Invite mediators to hear the issue and help to make decisions.
At times you might have to agree to disagree. You can only change yourself. You are not responsible for the other persons response—only yours. Romans 12:17-19 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Honor God and uphold truth when you respond. For those who choose to be consistently disagreeable, you may be forced to say you are truly sorry they feel that way—and then stop wasting time trying to fix what they want to keep broken. Humor is also a good divergent in dealing with disagreeable people. It has a way of cutting the tension!
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Remember that in the middle of a conflict is no time to start speaking harshly, or demanding ultimatums, or saying things that can hurt relationships for years to come, burning bridges which may never extend to us again. Some of you here may know what I’m talking about, having friends or family members who either you or they have broken a relationship in a fit of rage and and stubbornness and it’s been broken ever since.
While we can always sincerely apologize for our actions and attitudes, later on, the words we say will continue to echo in the ears of those we said them to and last long after the heat of the battle is over.