3 Valuable Tools To Resolve Conflict In A Hostile World
As a new church planter, I was astounded that we faced serious conflict in the first two months. It wasn’t the heated boiling-over kind of conflict; it was more simmering and hidden, on the back-of-the-stove kind.
A mature leader and I went to the home of the family involved to discuss things, but when we rang the doorbell no one answered. We suspected they were home, but were avoiding us.
Unfortunately, I made lots of mistakes in that unhappy episode, and I have made many more since. But I’ve also learned a few helpful things from my own mistakes, from my training, and from mentoring by others.
Here are 3 valuable tools to resolve conflict in a hostile world:
01. Remember that Every Leader Faces Conflict
Even the godliest leaders of the Bible could not escape conflict.
Joseph offended his brothers so much they almost killed him and sold him into slavery.Moses fought with friends and foes alike.The Apostle Paul parted company with the gracious “son of encouragement” Barnabas.Jesus was the perfect leader, yet he was hated and crucified.
Conflict is normal; how we handle it is the key.
Jack Walker, a seasoned Christian leader, counseled me about conflict in the workplace. He said, “Keep your expectations low and your hopes high.”
Do your best to solve conflict, but don’t think you can avoid it entirely. Don’t be discouraged, be encouraged that you have an opportunity to learn and grow. Sometimes we develop the best relationships with those we disagree with most.
02. Humble Yourself
Jack also counseled that the problem is usually not aptitude but attitude – particularly pride and an unwillingness to humble ourselves.
He related a story about the well-known reference book, The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible. It is a reference I absolutely love. Although over a million copies are in print, the author humbly insists on being completely anonymous. The author also refused an offer of a million dollars royalty for his work, believing God would rather have him serve with minimal compensation. What a great example of humility.
Scripture has much to say about humility and serving others, such as, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). “But whoever would be great among you must be slave of all” (Mark 10:43b, 44).
03. Speak the Truth…in Love
Walker emphasized that it is most important for the team to agree together to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
It does no good to bottle unhappy situations, they eventually boil over. And when they do, there is often an explosion.
At the same time, we must choose words wisely. Ill-chosen words can make a difficult situation worse.
Proverbs 15:1 says,
“A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger. “
Proverbs 16:24 (ESV) says,
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
Using these 3 tools won’t end all your conflicts. But they can certainly help minimize the amount and severity. You CAN resolve conflict.
May this verse be true of you: “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7 ESV)