Everybody benefits when there is a growing culture of men and women practicing biblical conflict resolution.
Yelling, pushing, and slamming doors, were some of the sad trademarks of my childhood and teenage years. I didn’t know how to deal with anger, nonetheless resolve conflict with others. Starting over was a primary reason that I attended the university I did. The years prior were some of the darkest of my life, and I assumed a new school, city, and community would give me the clean slate I wanted.
By God’s grace that new identity came, not in the ways I thought, but through godly men and women pursuing me and pointing me to Christ and His work for me. With faith in Christ, slowly transformation began across my life, and I began to see the Lord take that anger from my heart.
But still, even with the anger slowly beginning to leave, I naturally still ran into conflict. As a new Christian, I didn’t know where to file conflict. Have you ever been in a group where conflict happens? It gets awkward, tense and I immediately want to dive into the nearest bushes.
Several years in ministry have shown me a of couple things. One, conflict is unavoidable. Two, there’s a strong chance that the people, and especially students, you’re working with either haven’t had great models of how to resolve conflict or know how to do it themselves. Sometimes both.
Transferable Conflict Resolution
Over the years I’ve been blessed to come across some great resources and people who have modeled what healthy conflict resolution can look like. I’ve found the following few steps beneficial for me and for passing onto teammates and students.
Pray. Ask the Lord for wisdom and insight as you reflect on what happened. Is this an offense to overlook or something that needs to be brought up to the person(s) involved (Prov. 17:9)? Be wary of masking your feelings by “overlooking” the offense.
Read. The passages I like to reflect on are Ephesians 4:11-15 and 4:25-32. Paul is describing how the Gospel is to be reflected in our relationships with others as believers in Christ. By speaking the truth to one another in love the Body is built up in love.
Location, location, location. As you initiate with the person(s) involved, give them the courtesy of being in a place conducive to hearing what they have to say. A movie theater or on Facebook probably aren’t the best places to have this conversation.
The Conversation. Take time to pray together and read through the Ephesians passages together. This helps explain the heart of your time together. Lead with questions. Paul talks about how loving someone is believing the best in them (1 Cor. 13:7). Which means, being wary of assuming I know all the facts about the situation, because I don’t. Only God is omnipotent.
Out of all I experienced with a student I was mentoring over the past year, he mentioned that our conversation resolving a real time conflict was the most impactful.
The Journey, Not the Destination
On Google Maps, I love knowing each step to get my destination. The above is not foolproof formula that will bring you peace and unity every time, but it’s been helpful for me and for those I’ve been walking with over the past few years. Conflict doesn’t have to be a roadblock to where we want to go. By God’s grace through the Gospel, it can be an incredible door to greater intimacy.
What relationship in your life could be blessed by sharing the above? Whether that’s by seeking to resolve some conflict in your own life, or helping to equip someone to know how.
Vinnie Casanova helps lead the Lone Star Epic Team in Austin, TX. Vinnie is husband to Kimberly, the most beautiful, gifted woman he knows. He is also the proud, and often frantic, father of Clara, his second sweetheart. He has been on staff with Cru since 2007. He’s passionate about running, drinking good coffee, teaching God’s Word, and developing leaders who want to see The Great Commission fulfilled in their generation. For more information on Epic Movement visit: www.epicmovement.com. To contact Vinnie, email firstname.lastname@example.org