How to Stay Calm During a Relational Conflict


Shana Schutte shares key things to remember the next time you have a relational conflict.

I have a confession. Yesterday I had a relational conflict and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) wasn’t part of my reaction. In that moment, it would have been nice if I had exercised self-control over my words. But I didn’t—and I was sorry that I was such a poor example of Christ’s love.

If you have had a similar experience, here are a few thoughts that I hope will help you respond like Jesus when emotions run high.

Keepin’ It Cool

In John 8:1-11, Jesus experienced a relational conflict when the Pharisees tried to trap Him with a question, so that they could accuse Him. They brought a woman who had been caught in adultery to Him, and asked what they should do with her.

What’s amazing is that Jesus didn’t verbally wrangle with them even though He knew their motives were evil. He didn’t get angry, frustrated, or blow up. In fact, the Bible says He didn’t even answer their question. Instead, He stayed cool. Scripture even says that they “kept on questioning Him,” which makes me wonder if they were heckling Him, but He still didn’t respond.

Instead, He gave them an object lesson.

He began writing in the dirt, then stood and said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then, he began to write in the dirt again, until every one of them from oldest to youngest walked away.

No one knows exactly what He wrote in the dirt, but whatever it was, my personal guess is that it convicted and ashamed them.

Keep These in Mind

I believe there are four things Christ understood that helped him to confidently and calmly handle this conflict:

1) He understood His identity (John 8:12).

2) He understood that His ultimate destination was heaven (John 8:14).

3) He understood that He belonged to His Father (John 8:16).

4) He understood that all of the above were more important than caring about men’s opinions.

So, the next time you have a relational conflict:

  • Remember who you are. You are a son—or daughter—who is dearly loved by a God and you have been empowered by Him through His Spirit to respond in a God-honoring way (2 Peter 1:3).
  • Remember where you’re going. When you think about the brevity of life and eternity, it will keep your problem in perspective (2 Corinthians 4:18).
  • Remember Who you belong to. You belong to a God who is intimately involved in all the details of your life (Psalm 139). When you know that He is in control of your situation, you’ll be able to stay calm.
  • Remember the most important thing is to please your Father. When you worry more about what He thinks rather than what others think, you’ll find it easier to respond according to God’s will (Galatians 1:10).

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