If you are anything like me, conflict disturbs you. I’m not a fan of it, I prefer peace and harmony. Ommmmmm. Are my “yogis” with me?! But let’s be real, conflict is a part of life and even more so a part of leadership. Like I said, I don’t like it but, I will embrace it and lead through it when necessary for the betterment of others and myself. The sooner we learn to embrace it as part of having relationships with and leading people, the better we will respond when we are staring it in the face.
So HOW do we lead ourselves and others through conflict in a healthy way, afford others learning opportunities and maintain unity? The Bible actually spells out how to manage conflict in these few simple steps:
1. Value Me and You
“If a brother or sister sins, go and point out the fault, just between the two of you.” Matthew 18:15
The first step is to go directly to the person we feel has wronged us. We don’t go underground or go to someone else. Regardless of the relationship we have with this person, we go to them and give them a chance to rectify the situation by hearing them out and owning our responses/actions.
If we have taken that first step without resolution, we take the next step.
2. Me, You and a Few
“If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Matthew 18:16
Jesus states that the role of “a few” is to establish testimony. Sometimes our hurt makes it hard to hear. Having an objective party present helps to maintain an accurate and objective perspective of the situation at hand.
The kind of people you want in your “few” are:
- Good listeners
- Impartial to the situation and the parties involved
- Someone who listens to God and walks in the truth of His Word
- Wise counselors or professional therapists
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22
3. Me, You and a Pew
“If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Matthew 18:17
Jesus treated the pagans and tax collectors with love. He never let love leave the equation. He did not exclude them or excommunicate them but continued to demonstrate love and leadership.
So what do we do when there seems to be no hope?
4. We love and learn to live at peace with others while we invite God to move in our situation and work on our behalf.
“If it is impossible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
Think about what that would take for you?
What would it take for you to continue loving and living at peace with someone who has poorly managed conflict in your relationship?
This step takes acceptance of a person or situation the way it is today and complete surrender to God that He will move on your behalf. We have to remember that only God sees the hearts of people therefore He is the only one that can truly change people. This is not easy my friends, but it is possible with effort. The only way to gain peace and freedom within yourself at this stage of conflict is to release it to a higher power. Let me be clear, loving and living at peace with someone doesn’t mean getting lax on your boundaries, being subject to guilt trips or manipulation tactics. Quite the contrary in fact. Loving others to the best of our ability means maintaining healthy boundaries for ourselves and assessing what actions we need to take in order to maintain that peace with others while we love them through their growing pains. This may look different for everyone because we each have unique boundaries.
Conflict is an opportunity to grow, to do some self-evaluation, to learn about ourselves and for God to reveal himself to us BUT we must be eligible receivers. We have to practice being kind over being right.
Will you slow down enough to get into the heart of your conflict, so you can experience deliverance, demonstrate love, promote unity, achieve success and give others an opportunity to learn and grow?