6 Tips On Resolving Everyday Conflict

In last Sunday’s sermon we saw that Hebrews 12 warns us that relational conflict is one of the sins that can keep us from finishing the race of the Christian life. Since relational conflict is so serious (and so common) we all need some practical tips on how to resolve the everyday conflict we encounter.

6 Tips

1. Is This A Big Deal? 

Proverbs 19:11 A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

If every time we are wronged or offended, we make a big deal out of it, we will be in a continual state of conflict. We live with fallen people in a fallen world so there is an unending number of things that we could hurt or upset us. This proverb instructs us that some of those things just need to be overlooked and forgotten.

But in other places the Bible teaches us to approach people we’ve hurt or who have hurt us. So how do we know when it’s best to overlook an offense or bring it up to the other person? Here’s a question I ask myself: “Is this something I can quickly forget and not hold against the person?” If the answer to that is yes, then I don’t bring it up. If, on the other hand, this issue is going to stay with me and become a wedge between us, then I think it should be addressed.

2. Self Examination

James 4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?

Conflicts are less about circumstances and more about heart issues. So take time to examine your heart. Why is this making me so upset? Did I do anything to contribute to the problem? Is there anything I need to take ownership of before talking to the other person about what they did (or didn’t do)? What are my motives for bringing this up to them?

Have I ever done the same thing that I’m upset with another person for doing? Have I ever spoken harshly or gossiped or been selfish? If yes, that doesn’t mean that I can’t (or shouldn’t) have a conversation with the person who acted this way toward me, but it does change the way the conversation will go. I will be far more humble and far less self righteous when I realize that I’m often guilty of the same thing.

3. I Want To Reconcile vs. I Want To Win

The goal of biblical conflict resolution (especially in everyday matters) is to reconcile the relationship so that there’s nothing coming between us. If I’m honest with myself, my motive is often less glorious. I just want to win. But winning is never a goal that’s going to foster a good, helpful conversation. You might win but it will be a short term victory. It’s far better to win a friend than an argument.

4. Believe The Best About The Other Person

Matthew 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

I want people to believe the best about my motives and character. I want them to trust that I’m telling the truth. I want them to see things from my perspective. So Jesus says that if that’s how I want to be treated that I should treat others the same way.

5. Don’t Accuse

Here’s two different ways to start a conversation…

You laughed at me and that’s because you don’t respect me and I feel so belittled by you.

Or…

I’m not sure what was going through your mind this morning but we need to talk because I was hurt. From my perspective it looked like you were laughing at me. As soon as that happens I start thinking you don’t respect me and I feel belittled. Can you see where I am coming from?

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

6. Listen Without Defending

When someone takes a verbal swing at me, my first reaction is to put up my defenses to protect myself. But if we can learn to listen instead of counterpunch, our conflicts will lead to spiritual growth instead of further division. Maybe you can tell yourself that when someone points out something you’ve done wrong, you won’t respond in the moment. Instead you’ll simply say, “Thanks for sharing that. Let me think about it and get back to you.” What this response recognizes is that our first response isn’t usually our best response. After we’ve had a chance to think and pray, we will often see the issue differently than when we first heard about it.

Life this side of heaven is full of conflict. Let’s learn how to deal with it so that it will not keep us from finishing the race God marked out for us.

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