Conflict is a part of life. No matter how closely you walk with God, you will still encounter times of conflict. The goal in life is not to avoid conflict at all costs… but to address conflict in the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
Are you in conflict with another person at this moment? Is that person your spouse? Your son or daughter? Your mom or dad? Your boss or another co-worker? Your neighbour? What does God want you to do? The Book of Proverbs gives us great wisdom into dealing correctly with conflict.
- Seek wise counsel. “Prepare plans by consultation, and make war by wise guidance” (Prov. 20:18). Get a wise and unbiased third party to give you advice on the situation. You may be greatly in the wrong and not even know it. You may be so mad that you are unable to see the conflict from the other person’s perspective. There are three sides to every argument: yours, theirs, and the unbiased truth.
- Watch for pride. “Pride leads to conflict” (Prov. 13:10). Many conflicts are the result of wounded pride. If you at odds with someone, and your wounded pride is the main reason… confess it and reconcile. “God is opposed to the proud, but He gives grace to the humble” (Jas. 4:6).
- Watch for anger. “A man with a bad temper starts fights, but he who is slow to anger quits fighting” (Prov. 15:18). Conflict and anger are often joined at the hip. When you start to get angry, you need to back off the discussion. Many hurtful words are spoken in anger – I hate you… I wish I never married you… You are no good…You are stupid… You will never amount to anything. Once words like that leave your mouth, they cannot be retrieved. Better to bite your tongue and walk away from the argument than to start spewing words of anger that may indeed damage for a lifetime.
- Take the high road. “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him” (Prov. 26:4). It has well been said, “Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” Always be kind, considerate and respectful even in conflict. Think of the other person as your boss (even if he or she is your child). If you were pleading your case with your boss, you probably would not resort to name calling, would not interrupt, would not be disrespectful and condescending, and would not threaten. Those are keys things to remember when involved in any argument.
- Be quick with forgiveness. “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions” (Prov. 10:12). If you have been wronged, do not harbour a grudge in your heart. It will only hurt you. Bitterness is like burning your house down to kill a rat. It is STUPID! Forgive that person and give them over to the Lord. If you have wronged another, go to them with a broken and repentant heart and seek their forgiveness. Most people respond favourably (if not immediately, then eventually) to someone who is repentant and seeking forgiveness.
- Don’t get discouraged! No one has a track record of perfection when it comes to handling conflict. All of us have blown it with our family, our friends, our neighbours and people at work or school. What we need to do is get up and learn from our mistakes. Start putting God’s wisdom from Proverbs into practice so that your conflicts can result in win-win outcomes and your behaviour through it all can glorify Christ. Remember, “Arighteous man falls seven times, and rises again” (Prov. 24:16).
Pastor Olakunle Yusuf, Lead Consultant, Above Media. He can be reached via 08023423396 or email: [email protected]. Shalom!