When was the last time you had a conflict with someone? Maybe you are in the middle of one now.
Marriages, families and friendships are frequently damaged, and sometimes destroyed by unhealed hurts, anger and resentment. For relationships to succeed, we must learn how to keep disagreements from turning into destructive strife and division.
One of the best ways to avoid allowing disagreements to become destructive is to develop our peacemaking skills.
Here are several things that help us become better peacemakers:
Always value and protect the relationship.
At the heart of most conflicts is pride –the desire to be right –the desire to win an argument. Peacemaking begins when we lay pride aside and value the relationship more than winning the argument. Remember, you can win an argument and lose a relationship. What is more important to you, the argument or the relationship?
Own your own thoughts and feelings.
Using phrases like “You make me feel …. ” or “It’s all your fault!” in a disagreement creates defensiveness. Statements like these place blame. They communicate: “You’re the villain, I’m the victim!” They never lead to productive resolution. Own your own thoughts and feelings. Statements like “I’m feeling … I’m thinking” go a long way in diffusing conflict.
Manage your mouth and emotions.
Remember, you have control over what you say and how you act. Don’t forfeit control of your mouth or your emotions in the heat of the moment. Refuse to react. Avoid demeaning and attacking comments. Refuse to participate in faultfinding and name-calling. Be gracious and courteous in your manner and words. Decide that you will never use your tongue as a weapon.
Don’t resurrect the past.
Too often conflicts are escalated beyond the possibility of resolution simply because past issues are brought into the present conflict. When we bring the garbage of the past into present conversations we overload our mental and emotional systems, and productive communication ceases.
Resolve and release conflicts quickly.
Many conflicts are resolvable. Through mature, heathy interaction solutions are found and issues can be put to rest. Seek resolution quickly. Don’t drag out the conflict.
Sometimes resolution is found by simply releasing the other person from the expectations we have for them or the hurt or offense we feel they have caused to us. Release is a powerful and appropriate way to work through conflicts. The Bible calls this “forgiveness!”
Whatever the case, make sure you don’t let conflict continue for an extended period of time. The Bible instructs us not to carry them with us. When we do we suffer spiritually, emotionally and relationally:
And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. — Ephesians 4:26, 27 (NLT)
Part of the process of resolving conflict includes knowing how to finish it, put it behind us, and move forward in love and grace.
Don’t ignore your greatest resource –– Jesus Christ.
There is no one who can help you deal with your conflicts like Jesus can. He specializes in bringing people together. He is the great Reconciler! Pray about your conflicts and see what God will do to help you.
Paul wrote about this when addressing the church at Ephesus. The Ephesian congregation consisted of Jews and Gentiles who had put their faith in Jesus Christ. These two groups were very different in backgrounds and mindsets. There was potential for significant conflict between them. But Jesus’ power and grace brought them together in unity:
For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. — Ephesians 2:14 (NLT)
Are you in conflict? Decide to be a peacemaker. Don’t let conflict conquer you. Be a conqueror, through Jesus Christ!