Conflict is a process that allows for changes to happen. It is inevitable because our world has a sin problem from which all our other problems flow like water from the rock.
Conflict grows because we are different and we view our differences through a frame—or prism—of selfishness, rather than selflessness and with a lack of self-awareness of the needs of others.
We see this illustrated in the Bible in several places, most notably, in John 16:33, Acts 15:36-41, Philippians 4 and James 4:1-3.
Between Christians, conflict can be managed, but not necessarily resolved, because conflict is normal and will never go away. There are other people in the world , with their own deeply held philosophies, baked in personalities, and rock ribbed interpretations of the way the world should work. And that will always separate us at a fleshly level.
There are a few things that we can do to manage conflicts better:
- Separate people from positions: People are not the problem. The emotions that we have around them are the problem. The position that another individual holds about the problem can be addressed separately from the person. Remember that emotions around the problem and the position that the other person has taken about the problem cause disputes to grow in our hearts.
- Use “I” statements: “I” feel, “I” want, “I” am…any sentences that begin with “I” statement perform two critical actions: They diffuse the problem and expose the emotions under the problem. “I” statements also create ownership of your emotions around the problem.
- Engage with empathy: When you work from the neck up, you miss a lot. Tactics and strategy to approach another person in conflict are laid out in Matthew 18:15-17 are logical. Emotions are messier and more difficult to address. Empathy requires dealing with our own emotions and being tuned into what is going on inside of us, and also focusing on what’s going on with the other person.
God requires us to be “other-centered.” And in a fallen, self-centered world, it is difficult to operate in grace, forgiveness and with self-awareness.
But at no other time in the history of the world has there ever been a better time to start.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org