These six concepts about how to deal with conflict do not make for an exhaustive list and I’m certainly no expert at navigating conflict. I learned most of these things through failure.
I pray these thoughts are helpful to you the next time you find yourself facing conflict with another Believer.
1. Trust God with others’ hearts.
Just like he’s working on your heart to refine and redeem, He’s working in the hearts of all parties involved. Trust Him to do the work and resist the temptation to try and fix what’s broken in the hearts of others. Sin, both your own and that of the one you are experiencing conflict with, will sometimes appear to have giant flashing lights around it that beckons you to reckon with it. Determine to take ownership of your own junk and never place blame. Blame shifting is arrogant and prideful and will lead to even more conflict. Humbly ask God to reveal and redeem what is bruised or broken in your heart.
If in the end you feel compelled by the Spirit to give feedback, triple check your motives. Wait and seek the Lord for the proper timing and to be sure you aren’t supposed to be praying something instead of saying something. Unless your honest intention is to honor and uphold, keep praying.
2. Talking about conflict with people who can’t help resolve it is gossip.
Don’t do it. That doesn’t mean you can’t seek wise counsel. If you don’t know how to proceed, certainly speak with a trusted leader for feedback and to get some help in checking your blinds spots. But be careful to do this with intention. Thoughtlessly chatting with every friend about the woes of the conflict is wrong, even if that’s the biggest or only thing going on in your life. Chances are your motive in discussing the problem is looking for someone to tell you are right. That should be a signal to look for where you’ve gone wrong.
3. Your character and reputation speak for you, for better or for worse.
You don’t need to run around defending yourself, setting the record straight, or giving your take on what has happened. Trust that the people whose opinions you value most will know you and trust your heart.