Handling conflict well is not something that we naturally know how to do. A lot of people have never really seen what a healthy and God-honoring approach to conflict resolution looks like. We tend to either avoid direct conflict or battle it out until someone wins or surrenders.
But when it is approached with a desire to honor God and the other person, conflict can become an opportunity for the relationship to be strengthened, for both people to grow spiritually, and for God’s grace and love to be put on display. Conflict can actually be a good and valuable thing if we allow God to humble and refine our hearts through the process. As you grow in learning to orient toward God in the midst of conflict, you will also have plenty of opportunities to teach and model this type of approach to the girls in your life.
Here are 5 ways that we can pursue fruitfulness in conflict:
- If you’re the one who has been hurt, be honest about how you feel, but without attacking the other person. “I statements” are a helpful tool—for example: “When you forgot my birthday, I was hurt and felt like you didn’t care about me.” At the same time, be willing to recognize that your feelings may have more to do with your perspective than with something the other person has done. Take the initiative to admit when your assumptions are wrong.
- Listen with the intention of understanding the other person’s perspective. Ask questions to clarify and learn more about where they’re coming from, and allow them to correct any misunderstandings on your part.
- Humbly confess your hurtful actions and attitudes. Search your own heart so that you can see and admit your wrongdoing specifically. Remember that having our sin exposed is truly a gift of grace. God’s kindness leads us to repentance.
- Forgive as an overflow of God’s grace and love that have been poured out to you. Forgiveness doesn’t excuse the offense; rather, it extends mercy and relinquishes our hold on anger, judging and punishing.
- Pursue change. Discuss together what that change could look like. If there is a decision that needs to be made, work as a team to find a good solution that considers everyone’s needs and concerns.
As believers, our aim and hope in conflict is to reconcile and restore. As leaders, our goal is to model this to our girls and teach them that true peace requires honesty and a willingness to engage in the work of navigating differences and offenses.
Conflict is messy, and we can’t guarantee the outcome, but I think that intentionality and a gospel focus make a big difference for both us and for our girls. As far as it depends on us, we want to try to walk through conflict with a commitment to unity and a deep dependence on the grace of Christ.
- The Peacemaker by Ken Sande — https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/the-peacemaker-P001232289 (or Peacemaking for Families)
- Good & Angry by David Powlison — https://www.amazon.com/dp/1942572972/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_J96KDbXRKCYBD
- Untangling Emotions by Alasdair Groves & Winston Smith — https://www.amazon.com/dp/1433557827/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_c-6KDbF0V579A