Resolving Conflict Creatively, Part I
"But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ."1
I recall hearing a preacher of a large church, when celebrating his twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, declaring that he and his wife had never had a conflict. Chances are that one of the partners had become a doormat or a "peace at any price" person. About the only other way to live without ever having an argument or conflict is to become a hermit.
Wherever there are people, there will always be conflict at one time or another. When handled creatively, conflict can lead not only to resolution but also to personal growth. What we need to do is learn how to fight fair, to disagree agreeably, and to "fight" like a Christian.
So how do we do this?
First and foremost is to always strive to speak the truth in love. Remember that grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. We, too, need to precede truth with grace; that is, to always give loving, gracious acceptance. Unless we do this, the other person will not likely feel safe to share their truth. And without the sharing of truth, there is no connection and there is no resolution of conflict.
Second, listen...listen...listen—not only with our ears, but much more so with the heart. We need to hear what the other person is saying—not just what we think they are saying. This is because we all interpret messages through our own lenses, for "we see things not as they are, but as we are." And the more dishonest we are with our own inner-self (feelings), the more our seeing and hearing "lenses" are distorted and the more we will twist messages to make them match our perception of reality. For instance, if we are insecure or don't like ourselves, we will read into what others say to put ourselves down.
(To be continued.)
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be gracious in conflict situations, to always speak the truth in love, and be much more willing to listen before I speak. Help me to hear what the other person is saying regardless of their words and to handle conflict in a Christ-like manner. Gratefully, in Jesus' name. Amen."
1. Ephesians 4:15 (NASB).