The Art of Conflict
Because I am a People-Pleaser Perfectionist (i.e., I worship the idol of Fear of Man), the thing that brings me the most anxiety is conflict. And because I am the People-Pleaser Perfectionist President, I often feel in conflict even situations where the other person doesn't. Staff meetings? Long-overdue phone calls? Checking my email can sometimes give me hives. What if they're mad at me?
And then there are the times when there is real, legitimate conflict. The kind where everyone in the room knows this is not a happy situation. Just go ahead and get out the defibrillator. I'm going to have a heart attack right this minute.
So, as I beg God to grow me and to get rid of this Fear of Man idol, I'm encouraged by Ephesians 4. I'm desperate to learn how to trust God when someone says, “We need to talk...” How I respond to real conflict can close the door on Satan’s work. I can snatch away an opportunity for him to win. Here's what I learn from Ephesians 4.
1. I need to examine myself constantly and make sure that my mind is in the right place. I am called by God. I belong to Him and my eternal hope is in Him – not in how this situation is resolved.
2. When I have conflict with another Christian, I have to remember we are on the same team.together in Christ and the Spirit is in both of us.We are
3. I have been given grace… so has this person sitting across from me… and neither of us earned it because of what we have done or who we are. We both have received grace because of Christ.
4. I am a Christian. I don't have to protect myself or make me look better than I am. I can act like a Christian should act because of Jesus – not because I am so great. My mindset isn't centered around me. It's centered around Jesus.
5. I must keep at the front of my mind that the purpose of this conversation, this relationship, is to help each other grow more like Christ.
6. I need to be quick to forgive, not in a proud way, but remembering that I have been forgiven of a ton of junk.
7. Some things I just need to let go of. I need to be patient and bear with this person, remembering that we are both in the growing process.
8. I need to make sure that everything I say is truthful and that I don't spin something that is kinda true into truth. Also, I need to be really open to hearing truth, especially when it hurts.
9. Even though it gets messy, let's call a sin a sin. And let's get it out of here. Their sin. My sin.
10. I must be really careful with my words. I want to gently build their lives – point them to Jesus. I want to encourage their walk with Christ. I want to speak grace.
Ephesians 4 (ESV)
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—
one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it says, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men." (In saying, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?
He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.