Christian Conflict Management 101

To be able to live peacefully in any environment, we need to understand the fact that; Conflicts are inevitable and might not be totally avoidable. Regardless of our nature and personality traits, we tend to have issues with other people. Dealing with conflict isn’t easy; natural order of things has made scarcity of resources and time major challenges to humanity. As a leader, as a human being, you can be sure that you’ll face relational conflicts. No leadership model exists that will totally eliminate disagreements or clashes of personality. In fact, the tension that comes from conflict can be healthy and beneficial to growth if dealt with correctly. Life’s most important question isn’t “Will I face conflicts?” but “How can I best manage conflicts when they arise?”

The only Christ supported key to dealing with conflict is to follow God’s word and respond obediently and these are:

Eliminate Need to Retaliate: Understanding the others are important in handling conflicts. We need to listen more and be attentive to the inner pains being expressed by the others always. As Christians we should always learn to emphasize through active listening. Don’t totally avoid discussions. Don’t ignore underlining concern and covert interests that are instrumental to position of the other parties. Ignore the; insults, accusations and curses, they are all expressions of hurt. Emotions cannot be controlled by many people during quarrels, look beyond the tones, the pains and frustrations, concentrate on the issues at all time. Conflicts challenge our unity as a body of Christ. Our unity always poses a threat to the devil that will use every opportunity to take advantage of unresolved issues, especially those involving anger, bitterness, self-pity, and envy to bring us down (see Prov. 26:20)

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from us, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31). Conflict remains one major challenge to our prayers to the Lord. Jesus insisted that we love our neighbours as ourselves and that we should always promptly settle all quarrels with our brothers before coming for prayers (John 13:34: Romans 12:10). He specifically taught us to always express undying love to one another and tries to live in peace and harmony with our neighbours and brothers (Romans 15:5). Jesus commanded Christians to ensue: patience, kindness and tenderness of heart in dealing with each other always (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Discuss issues as they arise and acknowledge the other’s emotions: Jesus enjoined us to settle our differences among ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:11). Jesus was direct in His instructions about transgressions between brothers. “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4). Christians should learn the spirit of Jesus and the most essential part of conflict resolution process are; understanding the feelings of others and forgiving them.

We are taught to be long-suffering and tenderhearted toward one another. Good Christians will always consider others feelings and pains before theirs at all times (Philippians 2:3). We are to refrain from pre-judging issues and listen carefully to issues before we comment. In quarrels we should look beyond the explicit to the covert innuendoes in all statements. Interests determine people’s positions and as Christians we should always be conscious not to be selfish and over bearing in our attitude. Saint Paul admonishes us to always “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3–4).

Manage Emotions:

Uncontrolled emotional outbursts are the reasons for most arguments turning violent. We should always learn to appreciate the others standpoint and appreciates their emotions. Be emphatic at all times; listen attentively to what the others are saying. Never presuppose anything. Learn to be patient and see beyond the hurt and thoughtless argument of the other. Try walking away from argument when emotions can’t be controlled. We should always be the barometers of arguments, when it gets too hot to be reasonable walking away is a great option. We might not be able to solve any issue when tempers are flaring, hence when we are reaching our breaking point, please endeavours to move away for sometime for temper to cool down.

We are supposed to be strong and be the pillar for our friends and rejoice in finding solution to issues (Ephesians 4:2; 1 Corinthians 13:6). Always understand the role of emotion and ego in conflicts, as Christians; we should never aim at hurting others back, because of what they said during a quarrel. Learn to be more understanding and see beyond the hurt and thoughtlessness in other’s speech. Walk away, cool down and look for another way of addressing issues and not emotion later in a more mutually beneficial and rational way later (Coll. 3:120

Learn how to apologise:

 As peacemaker and Christian, we should learn how to diffuse tension with golden statements like ‘I am so sorry dear” “Please forgive me, if I in any way hurt you” even when you are not wrong! Disarm violent response with positive statements. Look beyond the hurt intended by the speech, learn to see the underlining tone and deal with issues while ignoring their position. Always be careful to craft your response at all time. Avoid deteriorating already fry nerves by saying the wrong things. Be smart to always ignore areas of disagreements and concentrate on points of agreements. This reduces argument from start and encourages better concentration by the other parties. You don’t drop a fish suddenly in a new tank; you do it slowly and gently. Arguments are not for winning; it’s about smoothing patches and designing better relationships. Hence you don’t throw cautions to the wind and attack the other parties relentlessly with violent words (Prov. 6:3; Coll. 3:13; Prov. 12:20).

Learn how to elicit underlining interests.

Clarify issues by asking open-ended questions thereby slowing down argument. These allow your opponent to pause and think out a response. People plan quarrel out in their minds before meeting the other parties. You should always throw a spanner in their meticulous plans by asking pertinent and clarifying questions such as:

  • “Please tell me, why is this so important to you..”?
  • “If I can understand you and rephrase that statement, what you are trying to say is that you are not being appreciated for all your hard works here, right”?
  • “Please tell me again, why is this so important right now”?
  • “Thanks for your complete honesty with me, but what do you think we can do right now, please”?

Always refrain from shouting and striking the others. Learn not to use words that can be deemed insulting, sarcastic and demeaning to others during quarrels. Abstain from raising your hand to strike others when temper flares. It’s barbaric and termed childish in all culture. Never use final words that leave your opponents with no choices. Statements like “ If you walk out, don’t ever come back here again”, “You are a bastard if you don’t do it” “Strike me if you are a man” “I hate you”. Reconciliations are made difficult by words spoken during quarrels. Many could forget the source of the quarrel, but what you say during the quarrel is etched in memories forever. You can’t unsay words, so be careful what you say during conflicts. Quarrels are to rework relationship processes not to end it. We lose great friends by being too excited and not watching our utterances.

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