Conflict is inevitable. Hopefully, that gives you some peace—if you’re experiencing conflict, that’s okay. In fact, it’s normal. Conflict isn’t bad but the way we navigate it can be bad. So, how should you navigate conflict? There are definitely some really unhealthy ways to walk through conflict but did you know there is a Biblical way to navigate it.
In this episode, Whit and Adam talk about how to resolve and address the conflict in our lives. Check it out!
“In the spirit of Matthew 18, I’d like to talk to you about ____.”
In Matthew 18v15-20, Jesus outlines how to navigate conflict within the church and it illuminates a wonderful way to navigate conflict in all areas of our lives. Check it out:
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
There are steps for handling conflict already outlined for us. All we have to do is follow them. Isn’t that beautiful?
Let’s break the steps down.
- Go to them
Honor the people in your life by talking to them (not others) about how your feeling first.
- Ask for a mediator
If your conflict isn’t resolved after speaking privately, invite a mediator in. Someone who knows and loves you both.
- Get some spiritual counsel
Still unresolved? Invite a counselor or pastor into the conversation. Again, look for a neutral party who loves both of you.
- Set a boundary
If there is still no resolve, you should consider setting a boundary with the individual. Check out our podcast, Boundaries don’t have to suck.
Let’s walk this out a little more. But before we do, remember that God works in your community.
Remember, God works in community.
18v18-20 Emphasizes the value of community in a Christ-follower’s life. God wants you to live at peace with everyone in your life. The goal for all conflicts is to resolve them. Why? Because community is where God shapes and grows His followers the most.
He doesn’t want you to abandon your community and He doesn’t want you to live with resentment. He wants to see His followers together, in unity, building His Kingdom. So, how do we do it?
Reshape your view of conflict.
Conflict is unavoidable. It’s a natural part of all relationships. So, what if you begin to see conflict as an opportunity for growth instead of the end of a relationship. You can’t grow in your Christ-likeness without tension. Like strength training, tension brings the most growth. So, a healthy view of conflict is the first step in navigating it well.
We inherit the way we navigate conflict from our families. So, you likely view conflict the way your parents view it. And they view conflict the way your grandparents view it, and so on.
How did your family navigate conflict?
- Did they blow up?
- Did they freeze you out?
Take a minute to think about the way your family navigated tension growing up. How could you begin to change your views?
Identifying your expectations.
Often, when navigating Matthew 18, we wonder … how little or big does this “ought” have to be before I have to tell them something’s going on. That’s a great question! It can be incredibly difficult to identify the times when you’re just hurting personally, and when the people in your life are hurting you.
Here are some questions to help:
- Do you keep talking about it to everyone but the person involved? You should talk to them.
- Does it seem like a negative feeling just seems to stick with you? You should talk to them.
- Is the relationship affecting your other relationships? You should talk to them.
- Could a conversation, while difficult, result in healing for one or both of you? You should talk to them.
So, how do I have this conversation?
The root of all arguments is unclear expectations. Conflict happens when people don’t meet our expectations or when you don’t meet their expectations.
One important aspect of dealing with conflict is figuring out what’s really going on in you. Why? Because your feelings aren’t always honest. It’s hard to know what’s bothering you and if you’re not careful you can bury things that really hurt you or you can blow up about things that are minor. We recommend a tool by Pete Scazzero called the Ladder of Integrity to help you identify what you’re really feeling. We don’t always have words for how we’re feeling, so taking time to put words to how you feel is one of the best things you can do to walk through your tensions.
How much tension could be avoided if you communicated your expectations in advance? The next time you go on vacation, plan a family day, go on a date, or just have some expectations for the day, stop, identify your expectations, and communicate them to the other people involved.
Dealing with ongoing tension in a relationship? Check out Toxic People and How to Deal.