The first thing you need to understand is this truth: Conflicts WILL happen for sure, no matter how good your organization be, or your team be, or your family be, or your church be, or your relationship be.
Don’t be surprised when you find yourself in a conflict with your close friend, or your loving wife/husband or your team-mate. Wherever there are people, there will be difference of opinion and there will be every chance for conflicts. But the way you handle it really matters.
You can either make the situation worse OR try to resolve it and become a peace maker.
These words of Jesus speaks louder:
Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9
Are you a peace maker?
Making peace is a godly attribute. One who loves God makes peace, and will definitely try everything possible to make the situation peaceful. Here are few things to keep in mind while handling conflicts and resolving them.
1. Seek God’s help before you take an action
Does that mean, that you should go to your prayer room and pray about it? Not necessarily! A short prayer would suffice.
For example, say in your mind, “Lord, I don’t know what I should do. I am confused. Would you please help me?”. Like this, continually seek God’s help, trusting in Him. He will definitely help you handle the situation in a better way.
2. Be quick to listen
Before taking an action, try to analyse the situation from different perspectives. Listen to what the involved parties have to say. Put yourselves in their shoes. Then you will understand the root cause of the conflict, which will help you make a better decision.
Some people get angry/emotional soon and end up making the situation worse. But as a peace maker, your duty should be to perform your best to solve the conflict. (You may read my previous post on 3 things not to do when you are angry, here)
That is why Bible says in James 1:19
My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry.
In a conflicting situation, you need to have the patience to listen first before speaking out or taking an action. This way you will be able to handle it better.
3. Use ‘wisdom’ rather than mere knowledge
Situations are unique and challenges are new in almost every conflict. Therefore, it is difficult to apply an hard and fast rule in all similar situations. It is at that time you need the wisdom (which comes from above) to take the right action. One who seeks God’s wisdom will definitely be given divine wisdom which helps us to know what to do and how to do, in conflicting situations.
Wisdom is defined as follows
The quality of having experience, knowledge, and the ability to discern and make good judgement.
The Bible says in James 3:17-18
Whenever people are jealous or selfish, they cause trouble and do all sorts of cruel things. But the wisdom that comes from above leads us to be pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere. When peacemakers plant seeds of peace, they will harvest justice.
Read this story of how King Solomon took a wise decision in identifying the real mother
One day two women came to King Solomon, and one of them said:
Your Majesty, this woman and I live in the same house. Not long ago my baby was born at home, and three days later her baby was born. Nobody else was there with us.
One night while we were all asleep, she rolled over on her baby, and he died. Then while I was still asleep, she got up and took my son out of my bed. She put him in her bed, then she put her dead baby next to me.
In the morning when I got up to feed my son, I saw that he was dead. But when I looked at him in the light, I knew he wasn’t my son.
“No!” the other woman shouted. “He was your son. My baby is alive!”
“The dead baby is yours,” the first woman yelled. “Mine is alive!”
They argued back and forth in front of Solomon, until finally he said, “Both of you say this live baby is yours. Someone bring me a sword.”
A sword was brought, and Solomon ordered, “Cut the baby in half! That way each of you can have part of him.”
“Please don’t kill my son,” the baby’s mother screamed. “Your Majesty, I love him very much, but give him to her. Just don’t kill him.”
The other woman shouted, “Go ahead and cut him in half. Then neither of us will have the baby.”
Solomon said, “Don’t kill the baby.” Then he pointed to the first woman, “She is his real mother. Give the baby to her.”
Everyone in Israel was amazed when they heard how Solomon had made his decision. They realized that God had given him wisdom to judge fairly.
Knowledge is being aware of something, or having the information about something, but wisdom is the ability to discern and make correct judgments and decisions. Or in other words, wisdom is the ability to apply that knowledge to the greater scheme of life. For example, knowing how to use a gun is knowledge; but knowing when to use it and when to keep it holstered is wisdom. Knowledge is acquired through study, research, investigation, observation, or experience. But true wisdom comes from God, which helps us or equips us to apply the acquired knowledge in different situations.
So how to attain this divine wisdom?
Simply ask God for it and He will give it in abundance.
If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. James 1:5
Again in Proverbs 9:10, the Bible says:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom
Are you in a challenging environment and don’t know how to handle the various conflicts which are happening in your life? All you need is wisdom. Ask and you shall receive.
4. Focus on building relationships
Conflicts happen in relationships. Relationships are built of people. Therefore handling conflicts is all about dealing with people, sometime dealing with the so-called difficult people. So the more you interact with different kinds of people, the more you learn how to deal with people.
Let’s say, you are in an argument with someone, which you know, may lead to a dispute. You have a choice – either you can provide valuable proofs or evidences and prove the other person wrong OR you can wisely change the conversation into an healthy discussion without hurting the other person’s feelings, and make him understand his folly. If you go for the first choice, you may win the argument, but you may lose the relationship.
A wise person will give first priority in building relationships. It’s better to lose the argument than to lose the relationship. If you focus on building good relationships, you will be able to make better decisions in a conflicting situation.
Read these few tips which the Bible suggests:
Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them. When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad. Be friendly with everyone. Don’t be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people. Don’t mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others, and do your best to live at peace with everyone. Romans 12: 14-18
Note the phrase, do your best to live at peace with everyone. Yes, this is possible with the help of God.
5. If you need to correct someone, do it privately
Never correct a person or point their mistake in front of others. It will hurt their feelings. Instead take him/her separately and tell them their mistake. Your goal shouldn’t be to prove them wrong, instead to help them improve. This way you will gain more respect and people will value your suggestions and accept the correction.
This is what Jesus advised to do:
If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. 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.’ 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. Matt 18:15-17
That is, first correct them in private, if they don’t listen to you, take one or two trustworthy people with you. If they still refuse, then you can bring the matter before the whole team.
6. Know that it is for your good
When conflicting situations arise, never loose heart and quit because it is for your good. How? You can use those conflicting situations to enhance your personal skills and improve your problem-solving capabilities. Each time you fail, you can learn the lessons on how not to fail, from those experiences. You can advise others with the knowledge you gained from this experience. You can use that opportunity to encourage someone, or to accept your mistakes or to learn from others. Therefore in the end, it will turn for your good, if you take it in the positive sense.
Bible guarantees you regarding this, that all things work together for your good, if….
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
which means, if you love God and you know that God has called you to serve Him, then no matter how bad that particular instance be, at the end it will be for your good. So knowing this will help you stand strong in times of conflicting situations and take a wise decision.
Let me summarize
Therefore, seek the Lord for the right direction and He will guide you. Listen carefully before you speak or take an action. A wise decision is what is required in a conflicting situation. Give first priority in building relationships. Correct others in private and encourage them in public. Know that all things work together for good to those who love God, and to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Now, what else you want to add to this? Please share your views below