by Alfred Ells, M.C.
1. Control yourself! Perhaps the most necessary yet difficult part of resolving conflict is ensuring that you maintain control of yourself. Proverbs 16:32 states, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, that he who captures a city.” In my case I first needed to learn how to deal with my feelings appropriately. I had to be quick to resolve angry feelings and work on controlling my thoughts so I could be patient and appropriate with Susan.
2. Deal with your anger – it hinders, not helps. A good lesson to remember is that simmering anger in a conflict does not produce good results. As James 1:19-20 shares, “…let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” Raised voice, fierce looks, stubbornness and contemptuous behavior is often a sign of unresolved and uncontrolled anger. It will provoke more anger and defensiveness instead of resolution.
3. When conflict arises…pray first…talk later. Going to God in prayer first, is your only real assurance of gaining the healthy, right perspective of your actions and the conflict. Having a conflict means there is a problem that needs to be worked out. When I stopped blowing up and started praying about my issues with Susan, a lot of things changed for the better. Stepping back from the situation, praying, and then talking really helped me handle conflict much better.
4. Don’t be a hypocrite – take the log out of your own eye first. As Matthew 7:4-5 so aptly states, I needed to examine my own culpability first before accusing or challenging Susan on her behavior. My favorite verse to remember in conflict is that “God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6. Some of our early fights and problems needed all the grace God could give! And neither one of us were very humble. Being ‘first to the cross’ for me meant being first to acknowledge my shortcomings and asking forgiveness.
5. Be the first to ‘actively listen’. Take the initiative to listen first and attempt to understand what message the other person is attempting to share. Adopt an interview style by asking questions. Don’t be defensive when you are the listener. No interruptions – wait until the other person has finished sharing before you respond. Even if you disagree with what you are hearing, don’t react. Instead, summarize what you are hearing the other person say so that he or she knows you have heard him or her. My mother was a great listener. Seeing her practice this step made me a better
6. Stick to the topic and look for areas of agreement, not just disagreement. Most conflicts escalate into sinful quarrels when the parties to the conflict don’t stick to the topic. Susan and I used to switch topics so frequently that we would forget what the original conflict was all about. It helps to uncover and summarize areas of agreement. Oftentimes, we agree on so much more than we disagree.
7. Forgive, forgive, forgive (Matthew 18:21-35) There is no true resolution without forgiveness. The first one to forgive is the peacemaker. Matthew 5:9 states ‘blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” It pays to be first to the cross.
NOTE: Leaving behind the anger and bringing self-control, humility, understanding and forgiveness to a conflict makes it much easier to resolve. All it takes is for one party to the conflict to be the ‘first to the cross’ and the conflict will subside and have
a high probability of resolution.
Leadership is a calling . . . to accomplishment through leading others. We believe that healthy leaders, leading healthy ministries, change cities. To do so, leaders need safe places and specialized services. At Leaders that Last Ministries™ we help leaders sustain excellence in ministry. Allow us to be a part of what you are meant to do: LEAD.
Rev. Al Ells, M.C.