I don't know about you, but I really struggle with conflict. As difficult as it is, conflict needs to be faced in order to be resolved. The problem is we do not always address it in a way that is gives us a sense of peace or is helpful (instead of harmful) to others.
Some of us ignore it, brush it under the rug, and hope it goes away. But this often enables another person to continue harmful behavior while bitterness, resentment, and anger bubble just under the surface. A single spark will cause an eruption and often a vengeful response.
Some of us become aggressive and seek to deal with conflict right away but often without much gentleness and a lot of misunderstanding. We wonder why people we often seek out to resolve a problem go running the other direction, meanwhile we label them as "dysfunctional" or unhealthy.
Resolving Everyday Conflict is a very short and simple book that gives four basic principles to resolving conflict in a way that fosters change and reconciliation. It is basically a shortened version of the very popular and excellent book The Peacemaker. Both are written by Ken Sande who has founded Peacemaker ministries as a result of the popularity of these books. It doesn't just follow Biblical principles laid out by Jesus, but Gospel principles that work to change our hearts to be more like Christ and be agents of peace and change in other peoples lives.
The book covers the 4 "G's" of conflict:
- G1 is Glorify God - bring God into your situation and seek his guidance and help to bring resolution and peace (this doesn't mean using him to rain down judgment!).
- G2 is Get the Log Out - own up to your part of the conflict (the step most frequently skipped).
- G3 is Gently Restore - help others own their part of the conflict (probably the most misused).
- G4 is Go and Be Reconciled (perhaps the most difficult).
The four principles sound simple on the surface and rather elementary, but if we are honest with ourselves, many of us are stuck in the third grade when it comes to resolving conflict. We might get 2 out of the four and that only with partial credit.
Sande asserts that the way we often try to make peace is to use some authority, whether our own or God's, in order to say why the other person is wrong and needs to change. We often believe our judgment of the situation is the right one. We overlook our own faults or we misplace them. We need to stop thinking we can change them or that they are a hopeless cause. We don't have God's perspective on the whole thing. He does desire to use us to be a catalyst for change in others. But let him do his job and you do yours. We have to acknowledge we contribute to the problem and begin with confessing our own sin and contribution. It doesn't matter whose portion is bigger, a speck in your own eye should always look like a log to you! Then by God's grace we may gain a hearing to gently point out the speck in another person's eye. This is difficult to do but we have to be gracious and we have to have their best interests in mind. Lastly, we must forgive and pray that the other person is able to as well and thus be reconciled.
It may sound like a step by step process. It isn't. Its an art. But it is gospel art woven by God to reveal his glory, the sufficiency of his Son, for our good. I hope you check out Resolving Everyday Conflict and find peace in all your relationships through Christ Jesus.