Any relationship that matters is going to be full of conflict. Whether it be our marriages, co-workers, friends, or family, conflict will make its impact – whether we like it or not. Some of us run towards it, while the rest of us run as fast as we can away from it! It’s easy to avoid it or mishandle conflict, and when we do, we lose an opportunity to grow.
Why? As followers of Jesus, we are reconcilers. We are bridge builders. Where there is division, we seek peace. Where there is hostility, we seek wholeness. Why? Because our identity is rooted in the gospel – that God reconciled us to himself in Christ. And because of this, the way we handle conflict is one of the clearest ways the world sees what we believe.
So how do we handle conflict in a healthy way? Below you’ll find a roadmap for conflict from one of our recent messages. We hope this serves as a resource for when you face conflict moving forward!
1. First, Pray.
Ask God to reveal your motives and rid you of selfish or reactionary ways. Pray for the person you are in conflict with. (Psalm 139:23-24)
2. Go TO Them, Not AROUND Them.
Avoid gossip and talking behind their back. Go directly to the person and share from your heart what you feel compelled to say. (Matthew 18:15-17)
3. Make Jesus The Center.
When Jesus is the center, He is the standard. And when He is the standard, it’s not about being right or wrong – it’s about being reconciled. Together, we bring this conflict to Jesus. (Ephesians 5:21)
4. Speak to Build Up, Not Tear Down.
As you discern your own motives in prayer, make sure what you are saying is spoken in a way that builds up the person, not tear them down. Even when what we have to say is hard, it can be done so in a way that isn’t reactionary. (Ephesians 4:25-29)
5. Own Your Own Sin.
The further you make it in conflict, the more likely it is that your own mistakes and sins will be revealed. Instead of getting defensive, own your sin and leave it at the cross together. (James 4:1-2)
6. Embrace Your Limits.
Have you done everything in your power to bring reconciliation in the relationship? If no, ask God for wisdom about what next steps to take. If yes, be at peace. Even though we are called to be reconciling in this life, not every conflict will have a happy ending. When it doesn’t, embrace your limits and be Christlike in all you say and do. ( Romans 12:18)