Conflict is inevitable. We each experience the world differently, and then we differ in perspectives. No matter how much we have in common with someone else, our ideas and expectations (and our sin) will sometimes clash. Often forcefully. It’s not a matter of if, but when. More importantly, it’s a matter of how.
As followers of Christ Jesus, the issue is not having conflict, but how we handle our conflict. Are we fighting to be right, to put someone in their place, or to build ourselves up with a “win”? Or, do we seek to honor God in our disagreements? Do we honor the image of God in another person in our conflicts? Do we use conflict to build up our relationships, instead of tearing them down?
The articles below from Family Fire contributors offer perspectives in dealing with conflicts in our relationships constructively and biblically.
Conflict Management: A Biblical Approach, by Rev. Jason Ruis -- Many people love connecting with extended family. But this can confront us with an uncomfortable understanding: where there are families, there will be conflict. How do we handle conflict when it bubbles up in our families? The Bible's book of James gives us some solid guidelines to follow.
Handling Conflict Constructively, by Rev. Kelly Vander Woude -- Perhaps we love being around people, talking, interacting, and hanging out with them. We also love God’s Word, but are we willing to stand on it while speaking truths into the lives of others? Will we risk certain relationships because we care about scripture?
Reconciling our Conflict with Reconciliation, by Rev. Kelly Vander Woude -- Forgiveness and reconciliation are often linked in our understanding and practice of our faith, and yet they are distinctly different. God is in the business of both forgiveness and reconciliation, and he has called us to be a part of it.
A Biblical Guide to Conflict Resolution, by Aneece Alicea -- Conflict is normal and happens in all areas of relationships. It is necessary to work through those conflicts in order to have successful, long-lasting relationships. Conflicts are not always negative, as they can bring on necessary change in relationships. It is more about how we handle the conflict.
A Healthy Posture for Approaching Conflict, by Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra -- We can be entirely right about an issue, but completely wrong in how we communicate our disagreement with someone else. Whether with our spouse or as you a parent with a child, we can short-circuit the process of conflict resolution when we ignore our attitude towards the other person.
The Power of Apology, by Rev. Deb Koster -- An apology takes great courage. It involves claiming ownership over how we intentionally or unintentionally brought pain into someone’s life. Facing someone we have hurt and asking to restore the relationship takes a special bravery.
Agreeing to Disagree, by Kimberly Sullivan -- Our world is more opinionated and vocal than ever before. There are some benefits to this, but it can make our relationships very uncomfortable. What are some keys to keeping relationships strong and loving even when there are big differences of opinion?
Should we Confront Fellow Christians on Social Media? by Laura Goosens -- Social media seems to be a breeding ground for division in our society, even between fellow Christians. How do we practice love and unity in our current social media climate? What if we see a fellow Christian clearly in the wrong, should we confront them or just keep scrolling?
Marriage Conflict: Why Do We Fight? by Rev. Deb Koster -- Have you ever had a big argument over a small thing? A late dinner or an unchanged toilet-paper roll? But when we argue about trivial things, they might actually represent bigger, more significant issues. We may get stuck on the superficial irritants and never quite explore the real underlying issues. We have the same fight over and over—the details may be different, but the deeper issues remain the same.
Marriage Conflict: Rules of Engagement, by Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra -- Handling conflict well begins when we acknowledge that conflict is not only inevitable, but gives us an opportunity to deepen intimacy, each of us maturing as a person. Don’t avoid disagreements and don’t gloss over problems. Rather, agree as a couple that disagreements are an opportunity to grow closer together as a couple, and to mature as Christians.
Married couples fight. How you fight matters. Check out our ebook, Ten Rules for Fair Fighting. It will equip you to resolve conflict in a way that builds and strengthens your marriage. It’s free.
Mentoring Children to Manage their Conflicts, by Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra -- Managing conflict between children is never easy, but with our mentoring they can learn how to navigate conflict effectively. Life will never be conflict-free, and unity matters to God, so learning to manage conflict is a virtue.
Sibling Conflict: Lessons from the Bible, Kim Sullivan -- Siblings don’t share, they yell at one another, and sometimes even get into physical altercations. Our children’s poor choices can leave us parents feeling disenchanted, disappointed, and disillusioned. But God can use family conflict to bring us to a place he intends, a place of trust and reliance upon Him.
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Rev. Deb Koster
Rev. Deb Koster