This is so true about life! Whenever two people or more team up together, conflict will surely arise. It can happen in marriage and it can happen between friends and business associates. And when conflict goes bad, success doesn’t happen!
Many people today are conflict avoiders. The Church needs to be different! We need to be willing to address conflict and guide others through a healthy resolution process. Working through a conflict can cause you to develop a deeper and more trusting relationship – and that’s the goal!
It is a proven fact that conflict can be healthy and can actually move you closer to success. Success is based on relationships and relationships offer the chance of conflict, so to get success, you must master conflict. How did Jesus handle conflict? How did Paul? The NT has many potent examples of how men of God handled conflict amongst themselves. Let me share with you what I have learned over the years…
When there is conflict:
Firstly, do not just assume the worst. It is a terrible mistake when you assume that they meant what you think they did. Don’t assume they did it on purpose. The fact is that most of the time our assumptions are incorrect and all our assumptions do is cause us to get in a deeper hole.
Secondly, learn to ask questions. Since you cannot assume anything, you must begin your confrontation by finding out the facts as that person sees them. Maybe the other person had good but misguided intentions. Maybe they actually have a well thought out position that you hadn’t thought of! Maybe they just missed how that would be seen. Hey…everybody is entitled to make mistakes and blow things out of proportion.
Thirdly, let them know how you perceive things, or how you feel, rather than what they did. Don’t just barge in and say, “You did this!” Instead, you can say something like, “I feel like your action may have been better if you would have…”
It is a terrible mistake when you assume that they meant what you think they did. Don’t assume they did it on purpose. The fact is that most of the time our assumptions are incorrect and all our assumptions do is cause us to get in a deeper hole.
Lastly, and most importantly…deal with one issue at a time. Too many conflicts go round and round and don’t end up solving the original issue. Stick to one point and see it through to understanding.
When someone comes to confront you and clear out conflict you must never over-react. Here are some practical pointers for you.
1. Don’t take it personally. When we take things personally we become protective and then become defensive. This escalates conflict and erases all humility from ourselves.
2. Never ever counter-attack. You need to deal with one issue at a time. When you muddy the waters about who is better or less guilty, then there is a tendency to hide from the main issue. As Christians we need to be open to our own faults and blind spots. It may be hard, but let the conversation run its course till the conflict is solved.
3. Objective reflection gives us time to think and sort out issues in our own life first! Our natural tendency is to argue and hammer out words to others. But wait…take time to think out what God is saying to you first.
4. God needs to teach us to keep our eyes on the bigger picture. Most things are not worth getting upset about. Is a productive relationship worth sacrificing over trivial matters that actually don’t mean a big deal? The bigger picture will always be the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
5. Respect the other person as a person! Everyone has a value. In Community of Hope we say… ‘Where everybody is somebody…and Jesus Christ is Lord!’ Never go overboard on disrespect. Remember…if you have gossiped, you will have to pay for it later!
6. Become solution oriented and not problem focused! If problems have been dealt with in the past…and if you bring it up again…then you have a serious issue with forgiveness! The goal is to get going again, and not punish the person you have a conflict with.
Conflict doesn’t have to end in a bad way. In fact, it can cause you to develop a deeper and more trusting relationship with the person you have had conflict with. In my life and ministry this is what I practice…that when conflict arises, the more mature person seeks to sort it out first, rather than wait. It was God who came down to the Garden to face Adam and Eve. I have learned that where leadership is concerned, the reaction to correction determines maturity. In any conflict if there is no humility and openness displayed, if there is no true repentance and confession, if there is no forgiveness and letting go…then success is hampered and unity is destroyed. So the next time you have to confront, or you are being confronted, remember it will be a personal test for you and your success in all you do and will ever become!