Life without conflict would be nice, but it’s very unrealistic. Since God created all of us uniquely, we have different opinions about how life’s situations should be handled. Thus, we must learn to deal with conflict.
We are responsible for our skill development in communication, relationship building, and problem solving. We should evaluate ourselves to see if we are flexible and willing to make changes. Do we listen to others and hear what they mean as well as what they say? Do we communicate clearly our own thoughts? How do we really feel about conflict—is it something we seek to avoid, considering it to be a negative aspect of a relationship? Or do we evaluate conflict in a positive light to see what good can come from dealing appropriately with it?
What is Conflict?
Conflict is a struggle over opposing ideas or values. It quite often involves a struggle for power and signals that we must attempt to resolve a problem. Even though we usually associate conflict with action, it often results from is communication.
Conflict can occur when:
- We feel we have no control over a situation’s outcome and get defensive.
- Our rights are threatened. Although Christ says to put others’ needs before ours (see Phil. 2:4; Mark 9:35), we are taught to stand up for our pwn rights. When we feel someone has tried to take away or infringe on them, we may react with hostility and anger.
- Our self-esteem is questioned. When someone questions our worth, we may feel challenged to protect our egos.
- We feel taken for granted. One of our greatest needs is to feel valued. When we feel others presume upon us, we may become emotional or irrational.
- We fear change. For many of us, status quo means security and change means uncertainty. Fear of change may cause us to react negatively. For these and other reasons, our needs or expectations of someone are unmet. The result is conflict.
Questions to Consider When Conflict Arises:
- Why has God allowed this and how does He want it resolved? Nothing happens to us without His permission (Rom. 8:28). We must view the situation through His eyes.
- Is this issue important enough to use valuable time and energy or so incidental that it should just be dropped?
- What do I stand to lose in this situation? Count the cost before pursuing resolution.
- Is this a repeat problem or a first occurrence? If it happens regularly, find patterns behind the occurrences before confronting the issue.
- Do I have the authority to make a decision regarding the problem, or does the authority rest with the opposing party? Knowing who can make the decisions is important to settling issues.
Next week we’ll look at the barriers to resolving conflict and how to overcome them.