The basic ingredient of conflict resolution is humility.
A friend of mine has been in severe pain for over 18 months after three hip surgeries. In just the last month, she noticed the area around the incision was hot, red, and swollen. A physician’s assistant found she had a large pocket of pus underneath the incision point. For months, my friend had a pool of hidden infection growing in her body.
That’s what unresolved conflict does to relationships. It causes an undercurrent of pain, slowly eroding trust, peace, love, and the ability to work together for the good of God’s Kingdom. Avoiding it doesn’t diminish the issues; they just goes underground and fester just like my friend’s infection.
Most of us don’t like to confront conflict. We’re afraid of making things worse. We’re confused of how to go about it. The Bible gives clear directions on how we can handle conflict resolution responsibly and in love.
The biggest problem is, it takes humility. That’s because we have to take a hard look at ourselves and our relationship with God before we approach the other person. We also have to admit we are weak and we may not handle the resolution as lovingly as God would want us.
When I came across Susan Stewart’s biblical outline on conflict resolution, I knew I wanted to share it with all of you. I love the way Susan outlined this passage from James 4. I encourage you with all the sincerity I can muster; think about someone you are having conflict with and have the courage to practice these seven steps. You’ll feel better, you’ll have a stronger relationship, and you’ll do the Kingdom of God a heap of good as you and the other person stand side by side for the Kingdom of God instead of back-to-back. I had to do that just this morning and I can assure you, it works.
Here’s my guest, Susan Stewart.
7 Steps toward Conflict Resolution
By Susan K. Stewart
A recent undercurrent of discontent infected our congregation. I’d developed a terrible attitude about the situation, and I sat trying to be attentive for the sermon titled: Resolution: The Mathew Solution. I missed it.
Submit to God
No matter the circumstances, submit to God. Ask for his wisdom to see the truth, not the colored viewpoint of humans. Be willing to follow him … wherever it may lead.
Resist the devil
As we submit to God, we resist the devil. But the attacks will continue during the peacemaking process. Satan wants to convince us we aren’t at fault and that following God’s way is troublesome, a lot of work, and a hindrance to the outcome we want.
Draw near to God
The more we resist the devil, the closer we draw near to God. As we move closer to him, the better able we are to resist the devil, remove our own desires and submit to his.
Cleanse your hands
We’ve become ingrained with Mt. 18—go to the one who has sinned against you. Instead we should be looking at our own sin. “First take the log out of your own eye” (Mt. 7:5 NASB). We need to face our own sin before we confront anyone else’s.
Purify your heart
The goal of conflict resolution is reconciliation with God. To approach a solution to the friction, our own hearts need to be clean. This is done by seeking to please God, not other people. Not everyone will be happy, but God will be delighted.
Be miserable and mourn and weep
Sin is the root of strife and we should be saddened and repentant. As we submit to God’s authority and purify our hearts, we come to realize how destructive our own sin is in the conflict.
Humility isn’t weakness; it’s the opposite of pride and admits we can do nothing on our own. When pride takes hold, we think we have the solution to any problem. But only God is the true peacemaker.
The next time conflict resolution is the topic, remember James’s steps to peacemaking. Resolve the strife in yourself, and then you’ll be prepared to help others.
Is there a conflict in your life? How will you follow James’s steps to resolve it?
When she’s not tending chickens and donkeys, Susan K. Stewart teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. Susan’s passion is to inspire readers and listeners with practical, real-world solutions. Her books include Science in the Kitchen and Preschool: At What Cost? and the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers. Contact Susan to speak to your group her website www.practicalinspirations.com.