In part 2 of this article on how to handle conflict in your family, we’ll continue to discuss how to assess our own hearts and how to move forward together in Christ. You can find part one by clicking here.
So, picking up with number four, what are some other questions we can ask ourselves when we are facing conflict?
4. Will my words help or hurt? (Ephesians 4:29)
If I had a dollar for the number of words I have spoken hastily or without regard to the consequences. Words have the power to destroy or give life. There is an element of timing here. Said differently, is this word going to be an apt word (Proverbs 15:23)? At the right time even admonishing words can be made acceptable (Proverbs 15:2). Is this word going to ultimately edify the person, and bring grace to their ears?
As a counselor, one thing I have learned is this: Do not bring conviction without hope! If you have sinned or hurt a person with words, remember to confess authentically and unequivocally. There is forgiveness and refreshing communion with God when you repent and confess (1 John 1:9). Your humility will go a long way to help them see their part in the conflict.
The goal in relational conflict should always be restoration and the best way to get there is humility and grace. Bring less criticism and more encouragement; less draining negativity and more life-giving counsel.
- What would love look like in this interaction? (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)
This should help: Love never compromises truth. But equally important, love never compromises grace either! Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). How about you? All of us are wired a bit one way more than the other. “Hey, I am just a truth teller…” or “Hey, I am all about grace.” While that may be the case, you can’t afford to foreclose on one extreme because frankly it is not Christ-like or biblical!
One extreme breeds a condemning, self-righteousness and the other a coddling enablement. One acts as if we are not justified by grace in Christ (Romans 3:24) and the other outrages the true “Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29).
Love brings truth and grace together. Love has the hard conversation but is like “velvet steel,” offering the truth pill with a gentle spirit of humility. There are times the truth must lead out and grace is extended depending on the response but there are also times when grace leads out to furrow the soil for truth. Because of what love demands of us in this regard, pray for discernment and never compromise one for the other!
- How would wisdom instruct my actions? (James 3:17)
Wisdom is a rare jewel. Seek it! Treasure it! Share it carefully. A great definition for wisdom is: applied knowledge. Most of you reading this do not need more information; you need more consistent application of what you already know! That is living in wisdom.
I often catch myself asking God almost instinctively now, is this wise, Lord? Do I go or do I wait? Do I write a note or call? Do I have a face to face meeting or is this ok to send by e-mail? Do I let them learn from natural consequences or intervene? Is my spirit one of purity, gentleness, and impartiality or do I have an agenda here that will betray love? Am I aware of the mercy that I have received and am I going with a humble heart? These types of questions have stopped me in a moment of wanting to speak harshly to my wife, from disciplining my children out of anger, and from foolish words spoken to a friend. Make sure you carefully review these questions for yourself before you approach a person about a conflict you have with them.
Where to go frorm here…
If this has been helpful, write these six questions down and carry them with you for a month. Refer to them when you have to face a potentially conflictual situation. Study the Scriptures associated with these questions. In most cases, the problem will still be there when you are done but you will be much more prepared to go as God’s ambassador of peace, or to wait and pray asking God to go before you.
May God bless you and may you become a peacemaker in your home and in your circle of influence!