What Does Healthy Conflict Resolution Look Like?
Knowing that you’ll be with family who you might see only over the holidays do issues rise up in your heart and mind when thinking about some of those relatives? Kelli sheds light on how we can work through conflict in a healthy manner to bring reconciliation.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20
One of our dear friends is a police officer. He reports to us that hands down, they get more calls on holidays because families know how to fight. Crazy huh? While your family might not be to the 9-1-1 extreme, I imagine there is some conflict or disagreement.
Those conflicts can range from who has the best turkey recipe to the disagreement that continues to go undiscussed and takes up residence as the elephant in the room. How can we be equipped to enjoy the holidays and resolve conflict at the same time?
- Be Quick to Listen. It’s been said we were given two ears and one mouth, so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. That is good advice …. especially when approaching conflict. It is natural for our defenses to rear up and want to tell our side. But it is helpful for us to simply listen. “Help me understand” is great way to start moving towards resolving conflict. All too often, when we seek to understand everyone’s thoughts and hurt, we understand their actions. Solutions, healing and peace begin while listening.
- Slow to Speak. Philippians 4:8 gives us a great filter to send our words through before we speak. Ask if the words we are thinking are “true, right, noble, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, praise worthy.” And if they are … then speak them. But we have to slow down … thinking about what we are going to say to the person we care about. Like an open bag of feathers in a windstorm, we can never retrieve our words. Let’s be slow to speak.
- Slow to become angry. Take deep breaths. Go for a quick run. Put yourself in timeout. Do what it takes to pause before anger takes over. While pausing, talk to God. Ask Him to slow down your emotions and your reaction, invite His Spirit to be the one to control you, not a spirit of anger and selfishness.
If the conflict you are in is more than who had the best pumpkin pie recipe, resist the temptation to shove another bite in your mouth. Instead, pursue the person you desire to be at peace with. After taking ownership of your part of the conflict, consider asking these four questions (taken from Watermark Conflict Field Guide):
1. Is the offense seriously dishonoring God?
2. Has it permanently damaged a relationship?
3. Is it seriously hurting other people?
4. Is it seriously hurting the offender himself?
If the answer is Yes, to one of them, consider inviting a mutual friend to help you work through it … that is why the Body of Christ was created, to help one another.
What is the hardest part to do: be slow to speak, quick to listen or slow to anger? Why do you think that is?