WHEN CONFLICT COMES
About seven years ago, Debbie and I bought a house in Houston. We had all the inspections done, and the house got a clean bill of health. Roughly two months into the new home, we discovered termites. UGH!! They were well established and were eating the studs out in the master bedroom.
We called the termite inspector who had failed to find the little intruders. He denied he made a mistake and did not think he was responsible for any treatment expenses. Obviously, we were in conflict with him.
A PART OF LIFE
Conflict is a part of life. Someone has defined conflict this way-conflict: two people. 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 neighbor? Your estranged friend? What does God want you to do? The Book of Proverbs gives us God's wisdom with regard to dealing with conflict.
1. 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.
2. Watch for pride. "Pride leads to conflict" (Proverbs 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" (James 4:6).
3. Watch for anger. "A man with a bad temper starts fights, but he who is slow to anger quiets 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.
4. 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.
5. Be quick with forgiveness. "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions" (Prov. 10:12). If you have been wronged, do not harbor a grudge in your heart. It will only hurt you. Bitterness is like burning your house down to kill a rat. 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 favorably (if not immediately, then eventually) to someone who is repentant and seeking forgiveness.
6. 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 neighbors 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 behavior through it all can glorify Christ. Remember,"A righteous man falls seven times, and rises again" (Prov. 24:16).
Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast.