The Highs and Lows of Conflict

masterpieceAccept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about doubtful issues…Let us no longer criticize one another. Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother’s way…We must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another. (Romans 14:1, 13, 19)

Ponder It.
When have you been hurt by someone’s confrontation?
Are you more like to avoid or jump into confrontation? Why?
How would you describe your conflict with God?

Receive It.
Conflict isn’t bad in and of itself. Conflict simply indicates that we have a difference in opinion, and that’s going to happen. We have different opinions, personalities, concerns, and experiences, so we’ll focus on different things and take different approaches. The conflict isn’t bad, but the way we approach the conflict can be. When we clash so badly that we confuse or degrade others, we don’t honor God. Conflict, as anything else, needs to reflect God. We need to do things His way, not our own. That’s difficult when it comes to conflict, because often times, conflict is driven by what we want. We’re passionate about our perspective and we want everyone else to know about it. We can even assume our conflict as God’s will, rationalizing that God told us to make disciples of people, so we need to point out everything they’re doing wrong. After all, isn’t that what discipleship is?

We can’t disciple others when we don’t have a respectful relationship. Discipleship takes trust and investment. Otherwise, we’re just people talking at each other instead of listening with each other. We hurl words instead of speaking truth in love. Hurling is an ineffective way to communicate, and often times, it’s hurtful and damaging.

On the other hand, conflict that is respectful takes the other person into account. It doesn’t just say what we think will please the other person, but it doesn’t intentionally hurt them either. Sometimes, people still get hurt. We can’t control everyone’s responses, but we can keep our own motivation in check and deal with the fallout as it comes. We can honor God through the process. Sometimes we will gently confront, and other times, we’ll be a bit more forceful, but our motivation has to keep the relationship in mind. We have to honor the other person through the process even if she doesn’t honor us, because we’re held to the high standard of glorifying God in everything we do, including confrontation.

Live It.
Who do you need to confront about something? What conversation have you been avoiding? Or, who have you recently confronted in an unloving way? How do you need to apologize? Pray about it today, then make a commitment. Even if you’re not quite ready, share with someone you trust and ask him or her to keep you accountable, checking with you to make sure you follow through.

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