introduction: It’s Thursday … it’s an authentic Thursday… it’s just what we do around here. Sometimes I invite guest bloggers… sometimes I just share from my heart. Today is the latter…
it’s unavoidable… plain and simple…
Recently the topic of “conflict” came up. just “conflict”. The Director of one of the teams I am on decided we would focus on the topic at an upcoming team building time. And, as usual, I took some time to ponder the topic… various aspects of the topic. What is it? How is it defined? What does it mean? When does it occur? Is conflict ok? Should I avoid it? If so, what is the best way to avoid it? And since I’m a Christian, what does the Bible say about?
Come with me on this journey?
verb (used without object)
- to come into collision or disagreement; be contradictory, at variance, or in opposition; clash.
- to fight or contend; do battle.
- a fight, battle, or struggle, especially a prolonged struggle; strife.
- controversy; quarrel: conflicts between parties.
- discord of action, feeling, or effect; antagonism or opposition, as of interests or principles: a conflict of ideas.
- a striking together; collision.
- incompatibility or interference, as of one idea, desire, event, or activity with another: a conflict in the schedule.
“Conflict refers to some form of friction, disagreement, or discord arising within a group when the beliefs or actions of one or more members of the group are either resisted by or unacceptable to one or more members of another group. Conflict can arise between members of the same group, known as intragroup conflict, or it can occur between members of two or more groups, and involve violence, interpersonal discord, and psychological tension, known as intergroup conflict. Conflict in groups often follows a specific course. Routine group interaction is first disrupted by an initial conflict, often caused by differences of opinion, disagreements between members, or scarcity of resources. At this point, the group is no longer united, and may split into coalitions. This period of conflict escalation in some cases gives way to a conflict resolution stage, after which the group can eventually return to routine group interaction once again.”
So, this search is a little narrow, but I searched on the word “conflict” on BibleGateway.com and here are the results: http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=conflict&qs_version=NIV
Conflict is brought by:
– a person who plots deceit / Proverbs 6:14
– a false witness/liar / Proverbs 6:19
– haters / Proverbs 10:12
– hot-tempered person / Proverbs 15:18
– a perverse person / Proverbs 16:28
– the greedy / Proverbs 28:25
– an angry person / Proverbs 29:22
(and THIS is just the beginning of what the Bible says on the topic)
“… we never allowed differences (of opinion) to become conflicts. It is our conviction that the unity of the Church, the body of Christ, is of paramount importance.” Walter Liefeld, Pastor
“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” – Ronald Reagan
“One of the main tasks of theology is to find words that do not divide but unite, that do not create conflict but unity, that do not hurt but heal.” – Henri Nouwen
And yet, the reality of life is that conflict will exist… in every relationship, on every team, in life and at work, even in ministry and at church, in every aspect of our lives… there will be conflict. It’s a fact.
Conflict is unavoidable.
At the recent team building event I attended we were given some resources and tools on how to better UNDERSTAND and PREVENT and RESOLVE conflict… and I really liked the knowledge we gained when it came to recognizing others respond when they are in a state of conflict. Having these resources in my tool belt has now given me the knowledge and confidence to be ready for the inevitable…
It’s uncomfortable. It can trigger emotions and hurtful words. It causes some people to run. But when handled the right way it can bring about healing and intimacy and be used for good.
I won’t lie to you… after learning about UNDERSTANDING and AVOIDING and RESOLVING conflict… we were faced with some conflict. And we left most of our tools in the tool box. This is going to take some practice. But, hey… I’ve got the tools now and I learned a valuable lesson at the team building event… UTILIZE your tools wisely!
With that I challenge you to seek out how you respond in times of conflict… and healthy ways to face the inevitable. It’ll be worth your efforts… I promise!
Additional resources on the topic:
Today’s Christian Woman article: A Family Worth Fighting For
For a team environment: Ministry Team Diagnostics
Responding in a God – honoring way: Confront Conflict with Courage
How to Manage Conflict on the job: 5 ways to Avoid Losing your Cool with a Co-worker
Dr. John Townsend: How Conflict Creates Connection for Couples