How can I set a good example by managing conflict well…
- …in my community?
- …in the whole of society?
1 Corinthians 6:1-6 (NIV)
If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!
Principle #1: Ask, “What’s my part in this?”
Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV) “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
“A very important but difficult piece of renewing relationships is accepting our part in any conflict. If we have a relationship in need of repair, we must remember that the wrong is not usually all on one side, and we are more easily able to restore relations when we look at our contribution to a conflict.” ~ Desmond Tutu, “The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World”
Principle #2: Ask, “Am I thinking through this in a healthy way?”
- What happened?
- What’s the story I’m telling myself about what happened?
Principle #3: Ask, “Am I willing to listen and receive from the other persons involved?”
James 1:19-20 (NIV) 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.
- Do I fully understand their perspective? (For example, have I repeated what they’ve said in my own words to be sure I understand their point of view?)
- Are there any questions I can ask to receive more clarity?
- I’d like to take some time to think about what you’ve said. Can we circle back to this conversation next week?
Principle #4: Ask, “Am I ready to speak about this in a healthy way?”
Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV) 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.
- Do I need to share a differing perspective? For example, does the topic being discussed overlap with any of my deepest values?
- What is my true motivation for responding?
- Remember: The motivation for what I’m sharing is more important than the information I’m sharing.