Last week we looked at the importance of peace and especially those who promote it, the peacemakers. We saw that as the ‘prince of peace’ Jesus is the one who leads us and inspires us to imitate our heavenly father and promote peace.
We saw that having peace is not something that just happens to us, but something we really have to work at.
This week we are going to look at an aspect of peacemaking and that is conflict resolution. Conflict happens around us every day, it is part of life. If we are serious about following Jesus though we need to do our best to resolve the conflicts we are involved in. It is not always possible to mend other people’s conflicts, but we should at least make an effort to resolve the ones we are in.
In the process of preparing this subject, I discovered some excellent principles about resolving conflicts from American pastor, Rick Warren. Here are 7 steps to resolving conflict:
1. Make the first move
Swallow your pride and take the initiative. We are called to be peacemakers, not peacekeepers. Peacekeepers don’t really resolve issues, they just maintain a ‘stand-off’. Don’t put it off, or it will never happen. As a famous phrase goes ‘do it now’.
So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. (Matthew 5:23-24) (NLT)
Conflict never resolves itself. The only way to resolve a conflict is to face it. The first man, Adam, didn’t get off to a great start.
And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:10)
If you want to be a peacemaker, hiding is not an option .
The following 3 D’s are definitely detrimental to resolving conflicts; being defensive, distant and demanding.
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)
2. Ask God for wisdom
If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him; he will not resent it. (James 1:5) (living bible)
3. Begin with what’s my fault
It’s very rare that we are completely blameless. If you took an honest assessment of yourself, you would discover, however small, where you have contributed to the conflict.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? (James 4:1)
As we saw last week, it’s important we are at peace with God and ourselves before we can be at peace with others. When I’m at peace inside, what’s outside doesn’t upset me.
Pride only leads to arguments, but those who take advice are wise. (Proverbs 13:10) (New Century Version)
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3,5)
We all have blindspots.
4. Be aware of their hurt and perspective
This is a very true phrase (Think about it) “Hurt people, hurt people”
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; (James1:19)
We have two ears and one mouth and we should use them in proportion. It’s so important to listen
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:4-5)
You are most like Jesus when you are focussing on others’ perspectives.
Even if we believe that it makes no difference to the Lord whether we do these things, still we cannot just go ahead and do them to please ourselves; for we must bear the “burden” of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others—of those who feel these things are wrong. Let’s please the other fellow, not ourselves, and do what is for his good and thus build him up in the Lord. (Romans 15:2) (Living bible)
5. Speak the truth tactfully
It’s important to tell the truth, but it takes skill to do it tactfully so that you don’t hurt the other person. Say it with kindness.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ (Ephesians 4:15)
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18) (NIV)
Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you. (Ephesians 4:29) (TEV)
6. Fix the problem, not the blame
Arguments can get very personal, very quickly. Attack the issue, not each other.
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. (Colossians 3:8)
7. Focus on reconciliation not resolution
This means re-establishing the relationship, which is the most important thing.
God has done all this. He has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships. In other words, God was using Christ to restore his relationship with humanity. He didn’t hold people’s faults against them, and he has given us this message of restored relationships to tell others. Therefore, we are Christ’s representatives, and through us God is calling you. We beg you on behalf of Christ to become reunited with God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) (God’s word)
You may have some other ideas. Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you.