Productive Not Destructive Conflict


Boyd Baily explains how productive conflict uses disagreements to engage each other’s hearts.

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. Romans 12:17, ESV

The silent treatment contributes to a slow relational death. Some people who are hurt by insensitivity or disinterest of others default to emotional disengagement. Sadly, their way of punishing someone they love is to withhold love, or they simply lack the skills to fight fair. Their choice to stew in isolation can cook up bitterness in their own heart and feelings of rejection in others.  At their emotional boiling point people tend to accuse and demand. Destructive conflict doesn't fight fair.  

However, productive conflict uses disagreements to engage each other’s hearts. Love is patient to truly understand another's perspective. What may be a misunderstanding is managed with questions and a spirit of seeking to comprehend not complain. Instead of attacking, there is vulnerability with our feelings. For example, we might say, “I want to help, but right now I don’t know how.” During productive conflict we can hit the pause button, take a deep breath and perhaps pray out loud for one another. Prayerful words replace silent pouting.

“Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters” (James 1:19, The Voice).

Furthermore, as we grow in grace we grow to honor individuals as the Lord does. Instead of being disrespectful with our distant demeanor, we communicate respect with our caring eye contact. We embrace another’s differences as an opportunity to learn and improve our thinking. We are quick to confess our quirks, even laugh at our weaknesses, as our heavenly Father reminds us to take Him but not ourselves too seriously. Productive conflict develops our dependence on God and on each other. It's like heavenly sandpaper to smooth our rough edges.

Therefore, fight fair and remember the devil is the enemy. Spiritual battles are won on our knees. The accuser, Satan, is silenced when we surrender to the Lord’s relational terms of engagement. Selfishness is exiled when we submit our expectations to God. Timely, sincere apologies with forgiveness replace agonizingly long periods of silence or withheld intimacy. Relational skills are needed to manage conflict well. Listen well, think the best and create a safe environment for difficult conversations. Productive conflict increases trust, friendship and intimacy.

“Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]” (Colossians 3:13, Amplified Bible).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, use conflict in my life to draw me closer to You and closer to those who are different from me. 

Related Readings: Job 6:24; Proverbs 10:19; Romans 15:7; Ephesians 4:32; James 3:3-12 

Post/Tweet today: Productive conflict hits the pause button, takes a deep breath and prays out loud for one another. #wisdomhunters

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