… go and be reconciled to them
None of us like conflict but in the world of relationships, conflict is unavoidable. Our uniqueness guarantees it.
We each have individual temperaments, personalities, upbringings, experiences, gifts, abilities, and passions in life. Those differences give colour to life and enrich our relationships but are also what create the potential for conflict. That’s why we don’t expect to never have conflict, we just commit to handling it well when it happens.
Remember, relationships are like soil; they need to be cultivated and kept free from weeds. And ‘ignoring conflict’ is a dangerous ‘weed’ in any relationship soil.
How we handle conflict makes a statement about how much the relationship means to us. And if it really matters, we will be resolute about resolving it.
So, conflict resolution is a life-skill to learn and apply like a ‘feed’ to the soil of your relationships. Its elements include:
- Recognising your differences: Take account of your differing personalities, approach to life and backgrounds. Affirm one another as unique expressions of God’s creative love.
- Being prepared to change: The Bibles says, ‘A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance’ (Proverbs 28:13 TLB).
- Listen before you speak: Listen to one another intently. ‘Be quick to listen and slow to speak’ (James 1:19). Listen to the attitude, motivation, and heart behind the words.
- Laugh at yourself: Maintain a sense of humour. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Humour relieves the tension.
- Speak the truth in love: Express your genuine views, heartfelt opinions, and real expectations. Be honest about the good and the bad. But be sure your words are constructive. Be honest yet loving to the core (Eph 4:15).
- Face the issue together: Most conflict resolution requires both parties to contribute to the solution. You must therefore face the issue together. It is not your problem; it is our problem. Tackle it together and it will strengthen your relationship.
- Re-centre your relationship: Finally, step back and set the issue in its bigger context. Re-centre your relationship as Christ-followers and recommit to doing things God’s way.