Conflict Resolution

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Conflict resolution can be uncomfortable, but if ignored, it can become ugly, even explosive. It is better to lose an argument and win a relationship.

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over—Matthew 18:15.

Christians tend to skirt conflict. Some perceive it as unspiritual, however Jesus teaches it is spiritual.  Healthy conflict is necessary for relational and spiritual growth. It is required to keep clean accounts with others and stay focused on Kingdom priorities. Conflict resolution can be uncomfortable, but if ignored, it can become ugly, even explosive. 

There are two roles in the beginning stages of conflict resolution. One role is the confronter—the other is the receiver. If you are the confronter, it is critical to communicate the facts of the situation. If you are loose with the truth and cavalier in your confrontation, the situation will worsen—so have the details documented and verified. 

The second critical aspect of the confronter is the spirit of the conversation. Do not inflict an accusatory tone in your voice. You are there in a spirit of reconciliation and healing. Avoid a condescending attitude, as you are a potential candidate for the same concerns you are bringing to your friend. It is with a spirit of humility and grace that you confront. 

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

You speak the truth in love. The receiver on the other hand needs to beware of defensiveness, denial and defiance. When confronted, the receiver needs to listen carefully and not interrupt with petty excuses. After hearing out the accuser, the receiver can correct any misconceptions and inaccuracies with a mature and level headed spirit. 

In most cases, the receiver of correction needs to apologize. Nine out of 10 times a sincere apology from the one receiving the rebuke remedies the situation. On the other hand, a combative environment will just escalate the debate into a stalemate. It is better to lose an argument and win a relationship. Treat each other as God does and everyone wins.

If there is not a private resolution, then there is the option of mediation. Mediation can involve one or two additional people. If two more are invited, it is an effective practice for each party to select one person each who is respected by all.  Everyone one should agree that the conclusion of the mediator(s) is the final word. 

To engage with another is to care. To ignore and even gossip about another is betrayal. The mature follower of Christ seeks to lovingly warn others of the consequences of unwise decisions. When you take the time to confront another you could save them from embarrassment and humiliation. Grace gives an opportunity for change. Praise God for those who have done the same for us. We need each other. Confronting now, precludes confrontation later. Diffuse the conflict bomb now and avoid an explosion of egos later. 

Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses (Proverbs 27:6).

Prayer: Whom do I need to lovingly confront over a concern, because I care for them?

Related Readings: Genesis 21:25; Job 6:24; Mark 8:33; Galatians 2:11-13

 

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