Thoughts of a Country Preacher

The Monday morning ruminations of a pastor.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Soothing Tensions

With one major Holiday down and another nipping on our toes, it may be wise for some of us to think about conflict management.

If you are ever in close contact with another person, eventually you will experience conflict in your life. Really, the only way to avoid conflict is to just avoid all people at all times and just become hermits in some far away cave. If we’re going to interact with people, especially family, we have to be ready for friction every once in a while. So here are some things I keep in mind when working with others that has helped me in the past.

First things first, here are just some basic general principles for conflict I follow.

Pray about it –

James 5:16 The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Pray for wisdom –

James 1:5 5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Pray for the words to say –

Mark 13:11 do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.

No matter what happens, always keep your cool –

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

Finally, resolve to win him with your life before you try to win him with your words –

Romans 12:21 - 13:1 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

All that being said, when I’m faced with a conflict in my life, the first thing I do is that I ask myself is this really something to get worked up about, or is it something I should just let go?

Proverbs 19:11 11 A man's discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.

When I look back at my life, I can’t help but admit that most of the blowups I’ve had were pointless – they didn’t change anything except that they made everyone more upset. More often than not anymore, when someone criticizes me for something, I ask myself "Is this true? Is this something I should consider?" If it is, I meditate on it. I try to be honest with myself first of all – because if I’m not honest with myself, people will see that and won’t take me seriously.

Proverbs 28:13 13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.

However, if their criticism is wrong, or its something that I don’t struggle with, then I just smile & say thank you, and go on with my life.

Second, if it is something that I’ve got to work on, I go directly to that person and talk to them about it.

Matthew 18:15 15 "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.

I think the first thing that this verse shows us is that avoidance is not the answer. A lot of people think "Out of sight, out of mind," but this just doesn’t work when it comes to conflicts. A problem that we avoid is a problem that grows. The only way to solve a problem is to confront it with loving boldness.
Since I’ve moved to Eldon, I’ve had a few problems with my neighbors. Mainly they just let their dogs run free & one is very aggressive toward both me and my wife. I could have been hateful about it, or I could have avoided the problem. But instead I just went over and had a few good conversations with them, and everything worked out great. But had I not gone over and talked to them, who knows how bad the problem could have gotten.

Third, realize that you may need help, and that seeking it out is a good thing.

Matthew 18:16 16 "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.

Sometimes a fresh set of ears is all that we need to resolve a conflict. If just talking about it doesn’t help, ask if he would like to sit down with other faithful Christians. There is a lot of wisdom in the church, and a lot of people who have been down this path before. Their experience can help you navigate through this.

Suggested Reading – Peacemakers by Ken Sande.


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