Conflict! It’s everywhere you turn. How many days have you gone without conflict in your life? With a spouse, child, parent, friend, co-worker, boss, even strangers. How can we handle conflict, so it is not a destructive force in our life?
In October 1945 the charter for the United Nations was signed with the express purpose to maintain peace, security, solve problems and promote harmony among nations. However, since its inception in 1945, there have only been twenty-six days when there was no armed conflict somewhere in the world.
Wow, that’s not exactly a stellar track record. Although world peace is something we all long for, it will not happen until the Prince of Peace returns. But with God’s help, we can deal with conflict in our personal lives.
But, Before we look at how to cure conflict it is important to understand where it originates.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” James 4:1 (NIV)
Conflict occurs because I expect others to meet needs in my life that only God can meet. When I think this way, I set myself up for disappointment, conflict, resentments, and bitterness.
So what is the answer? Is there a cure for conflict?
The cure for conflict is a reconciliation! But how is reconciliation accomplished? Here are seven important steps:
- Make peace with God. You need to end your war with God over who will be in charge of your life. Until we surrender to Him and ask Him to be the forgiver of our sins and the leader of our life, we will remain at war with Him. The Good News is He sent Jesus to make that possible. “[God] has restored our relationship with him through Christ and has given us the ministry of restoring relationships.” 2 Corinthians 5:18 (GWT)
- Ask God for help with the conflict. You pray about it. You always talk to God before you talk to the person with whom you have the conflict
- Take the initiative for a peace conference.The only way to resolve conflict is to face it. Whether it’s a parent, a child, a boss, a co-worker or whoever, you need to convene a face-to-face meeting. Often it will take more than one meeting. Choose the right time, the right place, pray before you meet and come to the meeting with a positive attitude.
- Confess my part of the conflict. Start with humility. Don’t accuse or rehash the past. Even if it’s 90% their fault, start by confessing the 10% that’s your fault.
- Listen for their hurt. Don’t listen to the problem, don’t listen to the issue. Listen for the hurt beneath their complaint, their anger, their issue. “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19 (NLT)
- Be willing to absorb the pain. This is the mark of maturity. But, it is the hardest part of reconciliation. Christ died to absorb our pain so we can be reconciled to God. When you absorb the pain in a relationship, you are being Christlike. You say, Yes, I have a right to get even, but I’m going to let you off the hook. I will let it go.
- Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution. There is a crucial difference. Reconciliation focuses on the relationship. Resolution is all about resolving the issues and agreeing on everything.
Determine to be an agent of reconciliation. Be a peacemaker at home, at school, at work, in your neighborhood or wherever you are. Realize and demonstrate that mercy always triumphs over the pursuit of justice.
It’s important to understand not every relationship can be reconciled. If we find ourselves in this situation, it’s important to examine our heart and our forgiveness. That way we can heal even if the relationship can’t.
There is not a better time than today to examine our relationships. Are we reconciled with God through Christ? What about the people in our lives? Forgiveness and reconciliation with others will pave the way for a renewed heart in us.
This week ask yourself, “Who do I need to reconcile with?”