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Global Outreach International

God's Way Versus "My Way"

by Maria Geno, Executive Assistant
When we learn to handle conflict well, we can form Godly relationships.

Why do we as human beings hate to face conflict?

Does embracing our emotions and owning up to conflict lead to better life-giving relationships? 

For most of my life, I have been a conflict-avoider. I avoided (or ran from) conflict like the plague because it wasn’t easy. It was scary and I felt I had to go in fully prepared for whatever the other person might throw at me.

Facing conflict is the most vulnerable place to put yourself and that vulnerability can be terrifying.

I will say that the way we view handling conflict does in a way go back to the examples we saw growing up, but I believe the issue goes even deeper.

I sometimes wonder if in our Christian world, we aren’t somewhat taught that the “good” Christian is always happy, never struggles, and should always look on the bright side of life.

I think in the effort to live up to this false image, we become even more guilt-ridden, bitter, and resentful in our lives.

This is not the way God intended for us to live.

God’s Word tells us in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Now, don’t miss the most important part of that verse…YOU. The responsibility is laid at your feet, not the people around you with whom you may be having a conflict.

You have to take charge of your life and decide you want to handle your relationships in a godly and loving way.

The Lord also tells us in Matthew 18:15, "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.”

Based on this scripture, the Lord tells us to go to the person we believe has wronged us and talk to them about it a one-on-one setting.

But, let me say, there is an attitude in which to go to your brother or sister, and it isn’t one of accusing or out of a motive “I am right, and you are wrong.”

I have come to lean on and believe there are three ways to come into a conflict-resolving conversation. 

Three Ways to Talk About Conflict

1. Don't Bring Judgement

This is a very hard step to put into practice, but if we can do this, it leads to a more fruitful conversation. I need to enter the exchange with the knowledge that some of the faults of conflict might lay with me. 

2. Exercise Humility

Enter the conversation with the headspace that you can speak “your truth,” but “your truth” may not always be fully true. Don’t be a know-it-all; be open to both give and take in the conversation.

3. Be Open-Minded 

Come with an open mind and an open heart to speak your side, but to listen to the other person’s side and heart as well. See if you can put on the other person’s shoes and walk for a little bit. In every conflict, I believe there is common ground to be found and that is a great place to start building on. 

What is the next step?

In Matthew 18, verses 16-17, the Lord goes on to tell us, “But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or corrupt tax collector.”

The one thing I love about this passage is the Lord lays out three opportunities for reconciliation and repentance. He also reveals a harsh punishment if repentance and reconciliation can’t be accomplished.

And, it is okay to ask for outside help!

Sometimes we need an objective mediator who can help both parties see the others’ side, and help them work through the conflict. 

We have to stop believing that we are stuck in our hurt, frustration, and the narrative we are running in our own heads.

I believe this type of living is openly allowing the Devil to win many battles in our lives.

It depends on you to go to the person who is causing this hurt, frustration and narrative, and tell them, then to see whether or not you are clearly seeing it, and to, if possible, work through it together.

We need to realize working through conflict shows so much love and care for the relationship. It conveys to the other person, “I care about you so much and I am not willing to leave us where we are. I want a true and authentic connection with you.” 

Conflict, while it is not fun or pleasurable, God does ask us to deal with it and provides us with the steps to address it.

I believe following God’s mechanism for conflict-resolution is both God-honoring and mutually life-giving.