Thursday, October 3, 2013

Six Tips for Biblical Conflict Resolution

We all experience conflict in our lives. As Christians our conflict should look different than the world's.

I returned last week from our annual ladies beach retreat. The theme this year was Biblical Conflict Resolution. The second day we were there I woke up in bed contemplating the different conflicts I have seen in ministry. I thought of six tips that could help resolve the different conflicts I have witnessed.

1) Think on Christ. Can you think of anyone who DESERVED to be treated better than Christ?! God Himself came in the flesh and was nailed to a tree. Talk about injustice! And yet, what was Christ's response?
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) Seriously?! Amazing! Why can't we be more like that? We are all sinners mad at other sinners and yet Jesus, a sinless man, was able to say: "forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." So often this is the case with different conflicts we are a part of. The people offending us don't even know what they are doing. Even if they do know what they are doing though, we are still called to forgive as Christ forgives! (Col. 3:13) Those who recognize how much they have been forgiven are the most forgiving.

Think on Christ and I guarantee you will view your conflicts differently.

2) Learn to receive correction. "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought" (Rom. 12:3) When we see ourselves as we truly are, wicked sinners, then we are better able to receive correction. God uses people in a mighty way if we let Him. He can use others correction toward us as a tool in His hand to refine us and make us more like Christ. When confronted, if we respond with humility, then we can truly understand biblical conflict resolution. It is out of pride that we are not willing to receive correction.  

"Whoever is stubborn after being corrected many times will suddenly be hurt beyond cure" (Prov. 29:1)

3) Overlook offenses. "It is to your glory to overlook an offense." (Prov. 19:11) In other words, it's for your own good to get over it! Overlooking offenses truly gets easier the more you do it. It also gets more difficult the less you do it. Overlooking offenses keeps bitterness at bay. Keeping track of offenses/keeping a record of wrongs feeds bitterness and poisons you and those around you. I pray the Lord helps me grow in this area and to see the many benefits of overlooking the "wrongs' done to me.  

Be more like teflon and less like velcro.
4) Talk to the person not about them. The bible is VERY clear about this one, (Matt 18:15-17), and yet it is one of the hardest to actually live out! If the issue with someone is big enough to talk about that person then the issue is big enough to talk to that person. Don't tear the body of Christ apart by talking about brothers and sisters in the Lord to others. Honor Christ and talk to your brother or sister in person.

5) Projection/Paranoia. The term projection basically means that we project ourselves on to others. We only have our mind/personality to work from so oftentimes we will project ourselves onto other people and assume we know what they may be feeling or thinking. This is bad. We don't know what other people are thinking or what other people mean when they say certain things. We often have to ask them in order to clarify what is really going on. Projection tends to lead to paranoia: "So and so doesn't like me. They are always annoyed with me." You may think this simply because "so and so" didn't wave at you or because of the way they looked at you. Projection and paranoia have led to many unnecessary conflicts! Ask the person what they are thinking, don't assume you know.

1 Sam 22:6-19 is the best story in the bible that illustrates what paranoia has the ability to do. Saul was very paranoid. He was convinced that everyone was against him and out to get him. Then came along a man named Doeg. Doeg was one evil dude. He loved to stir up trouble and make conflicts grow into preposterous proportions. He was one of those people you could see thoroughly enjoyed stirring up trouble and gossiping. In the end he fed Saul's paranoia to the point that it brought about the deaths of 85 innocent men! Don't be a Saul or a Doeg. Avoid paranoia and gossip. Stay out of conflicts you have nothing to do with. Assume the best until confronted and told otherwise. 

6) Be a peacemaker. Being a peacemaker doesn't usually come naturally to most of us. It takes great intention. The bible calls ALL Christians to be peacemakers though. We must seek peace. Create peace. Cultivate peace. Peace should go before us and after us. Would those around you describe you as a peacemaker or a conflictmaker?

I would like to conclude with two great verses on conflict from proverbs: "Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out." (prov. 17:14) and "It is to one's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel." (prov. 10:3)