April 3, 2023
HOW TO HANDLE CONFLICT IN BIBLICAL OBEDIENCE
We would all agree that the easiest and most natural thing we tend to do when someone hurts us is to get them back. Long before we ever have a conversation with the offending party, we talk about that person to others. This is often done under the guise of “seeking counsel” but it only ever enflames and exasperates the situation. One must ask then why we do it. The honest answer is twofold – because it’s easy and it’s pleasurable:
1. It’s a lot easier to discuss your problems with anyone and everyone who is not the person you have an issue with. This makes us feel good because we are able to go to others and win them to our side before the offending party even has a chance to defend themselves or even knows that there is a problem.
2. And as sinners, the sad reality is that we take pleasure in the demise of our enemies. Even if our enemy is a fellow believer.
But Jesus demands that we as Christians live and interact with others differently than how the world handles conflict. In Matthew 5:23-25, Jesus told the people that, even if you are at church and in the middle of worshipping God and you remember that there is someone that currently has something against you, you must stop your worship and go to them so that you can be reconciled. Take note of what Jesus did not say: He did not say to stop, pray about whether or not you should go, perhaps write a letter (aka take out your phone and send a text message), and see how it goes. Jesus Himself stated that we must physically and deliberately and as quick as humanly possible leave what we are doing and physically and deliberately and as quick as humanly possible go to that person directly…face to face. According to God, there is no other way.
How Can We Grow to Become Better Conflict Managers?
A. Be humble and be willing to recognize that you might be wrong. I know it’s hard to believe, but one of the most typical reasons for conflict is because you misheard, you misread, you misinterpreted, you miscommunicated – So, be humble.
B. Keep short accounts and do not allow yourself to hold onto things for a long period of time. If you choose to hang on to bitterness, then things will only build up and fester and brew resentment.
C. Do not ever talk with people when you have not talked to the individual yourself. Going directly to the other person and only that person will not only save the relationship but it will protect you from accusations of gossip and slander.
D. When you speak to your “offender” try to see them not as your offender but as your brother/sister. You need to control the way you think and how you see people.
E. If you end up disagreeing, fine. I promise the world will still go on. But don’t allow your differences to divide you and don’t resort to our culture’s victimhood mentality if things don’t go your way. Trust God and walk forward. We are all to be team players in the church. If you have to always have things your way and resort to anger when the situation does not unfold the way you wanted, then you have to ask yourself, are you being pridefully arrogant and allowing yourself to be a willing tool of Satan to divide?
A Note on Seeking Counsel
Seeking counsel is good and wise, however, often times we are actually slandering the other person and covering it up under the guise of counsel. When you are seeking counsel you do not need to talk to three, five, or a host of people about the situation, you should never mention the other person’s name and not give so many hints that they know who it is that you are talking about, and you should be very very careful to present the facts and not the situation in the only light that makes you look good.
Jesus calls us as Christians to take the harder road. To pursue people. To be humble. Believers, especially those in positions of authority, must always be slow in destroying the reputation of others. If we are not, then Satan dances in victory over how easily he has been able to destroy a church from the inside.
About the Author
Cameron Neace is the Senior Pastor of FBC Kahoka. He and his wife, Caitlin, and their two cats, Pierogi and Poptart, have called Kahoka home since February 2022. In his free time, Cameron enjoys playing board games and writing.