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Life without conflict is unavoidable. Living in this world, inevitably will bring you at odds with someone else, whether away from home, or in your own private quarters. It is simply a facet of human nature.
In scripture we see the apostle Paul handled conflict at several points in his ministry. Most markedly may be the conflict that occurred between him and Barnabas. This conflict was actually a 3rd party issue, because the initial difficulty that arose was between Paul and his helper John Mark. Paul had been at odds with John Mark probably because of differing work ethics. John Mark didn’t want to continue on, while Paul had wanted to forge ahead with the missionary journey. Eventually they decided to part company, Paul going on his way, and John Mark returning home. Upon finally returning to Antioch where the journey had begun, Paul wanted to go back on the mission field. Barnabas his partner however wanted to bring John Mark with them. A sharp conflict arose between Barnabas and Paul about John Mark, to the extent that they decided to part company. Paul took with him another companion, and Barnabas took John, and the two pairs headed in different directions.
For the sake of peace sometimes you have to part company with people. However this must be the last resort in handling conflicts. Recently I shared a few things to consider in resolving conflicts with those in your life.
First is that you have to communicate your position on the matter. So often we tell people how we feel, but they may not “hear” us. It could be its because they sense our lack of authenticity. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Opening up your heart may be well worth the risk, for it can let others get a deeper insight into your true intentions
As you communicate from the heart, you will find yourself being clear about what the issue is, because clarity of speech follows authenticity of heart.
But as you communicate clearly, be sure to own what you do say. Owning what you say, means acknowledging your words, even if it may cause pain, or if you do misspeak. Be courageous to share what you feel might be hurtful, as temporary pain though uncomfortable, may pave the way for a more honest relationship. In the case of when you have said something you shouldn’t have, be humble enough to admit your wrong, and take back the offensive words.
Another aspect to conflict resolution is finding grounds for compromise.
Paul invites us to see the benefit of finding common ground in people, in particular when we are seeking to bring them to Christ, for he says “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible mans I might save some”. (1 Corinthians 9:22) Isn’t it sad that in our common Christian practice we sometimes treat unbelievers better than fellow Christians? We understand the need to find common ground with those who are not yet believers, and are willing to give them a long rope. Yet so often we struggle with making amends with those who have already come to Christ (such as a contentious spouse, or a troublesome child). Paul of course is not asking us to compromise on kingdom values, but simply to try to bring people close to us. Elsewhere he encourages us to let the goal of our instruction be out of love. ( 1 Timothy 1:5) A love motivated person will seek to share their views in such a way to draw people closer not away, and if or when needed, will compromise to find common ground for consensus.
Lastly, lets not forget that sometimes in conflicts, you (or I) are the transgressing parties, and thus we need to change. Think about it, no amount of communication or compromise, can solve a conflictive relationship where the person who is clearly in the wrong refuses to change. If you were to honestly recall your last several conflicts, would you be found in the wrong more often? If so, then you need to change. Don’t ask for a compromise, or a truce, just simply change. Changing long standing habits or behaviour is not impossible. Thank God as believers we have been giving the power to change. This is the dynamic, all powerful, Spirit of God; The Holy Spirit.
Romans 8: 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God
If you are a child of God, truly born again of heart, then you have this Holy Spirit inside of you. Call out to Him, to change you. Surrender your will, your efforts, and your intentions to Him. Ask Him for how He wants to change you. Then step aside and watch him work His creative change in your life. While He does that, I bet you that He will also, restore some of those relationships that you have let fallen aside, simply because you couldn’t change.
Remember, conflicts will always happen, but by God’s help, and our commitment to relationships, we can get better at resolving them. In his conflict with Barnabas (on behalf of John Mark), Paul temporarily parted ways which unfortunately sometimes happens, yet despite the separation, we later we see that he had restored relationship with John Mark (See 2 Timothy 4:11). Showing us like Paul we should be committed to conflict resolution.
– Pastor Olu Jegede