What To Do About Conflicts
Now that we know that conflicts are inevitable the question comes up: What do we do about them? How do we handle them in such a way that they might be growth oriented and not disintegrate into a problem?
If I look back over my ministry, there seem to be four ways that conflicts have been handled:
1. Unwillingness to face it. Often we have been like an ostrich with our head in the sand unwilling to face the reality of a developing conflict. “Conflict? What conflict?” seems to be the response of some. However, this is one way of confronting a conflict and sadly this is the way some handle it.
2. Dealing with side issues instead of the real issue. In English we have a saying: “Beating around the bush.” Basically, what it means is that we skirt around the real issue and never get to the heart of the matter. Sadly this is the way conflicts often have been dealt with. Instead of getting to the heart of the matter we deal with things that might seem important, but in reality all it is doing is putting a band-aid on something that might need an operation.
3. Trying to ignore it. This is a little different than the first one where we are unwilling to face a conflict. This is where we know there is a conflict, but we believe that if we ignore it somehow it will go away; somehow it will take care of itself. All we have to do is wait and eventually it will work itself out. This is wishful thinking. It never happens because we have an implacable enemy who is making sure that it never will go away.
4. Working it out Scripturally. This is the only way that we can deal with a conflict. Working it out scripturally means that we will move towards true reconciliation. We will be looking at this later on. Reconciliation does not necessarily mean that the conflict is resolved as far as the issues are concerned.
When we work on reconciliation we are dealing with personal relationships. We may not be able to resolve the issues completely because there will always be a difference of opinions that stem from our background, experience, culture, language, etc.
We need to keep in mind that in any relationship (marriage, etc.) the goal is not for us to think alike, but to think together. The goal in a relationship is unity not uniformity.
We need the difference of opinions. There are no two people alike. However, when there are differences that grow into conflicts, we need reconciliation.