Conflict Resolution

busUnder the bus again…a case study in “Conflict Resolution.”

I got thrown under the bus.  The proverbial vehicle hit me again last week…twice. Yup, ran me right over.  I got a good look at it too– the color, the grill, and the tire treads.  It’s amazing how we are so sensitive to the details. It’s so eerily familiar.

I even got a good look at the perpetrator.  Did he mean to do it? -probably. Did he want to do it? – I’m not really sure. It’s likely it was the only way the person knew how to deal with the situation—by escalation then detonation. Probably has done it this way all his life and understands no other way, likely never having been taught the proper way to resolve conflict.

Resolving conflict—it’s probably the least taught skill on the planet.  Without the skill, wars are fought, marriages destroyed, friendships end, and worse of all—the hearts of people are hardened. It’s a skill that being discarded at the expense of community and relationship.  Discarded because of self-centered and defensive—I’m right and your wrongor self-protecting ideals.  The aftermath is terrible…horrible and leaves both parties at loss.  Is it really worth it?

The situation noted above happened to me in the business world.  It really didn’t surprise me.  Was I disappointed?-sure.  I just wished the person would have discussed their concerns and perceived issues with me prior to escalating up the corporate ladder…without giving all the details. This person, who works for one of our distributors, thought our company was attempting to steal a customer from them and that I was the instigator. No matter, in the end it all worked out.  It always does when we do the right thing with the right motives.

I actually expect this in the business world.  The business world: a place where fear, insecurity, ambition, and greed are more the norm than the exception.  Where people strive and perform; often at the expense of others.  Where blame shifting for failure is common and taking credit for work others did, partially or in full, is a regular occurrence. It’s so very sad, yet so very true.

What saddens me even more is conflict that happens between God’s people. Unresolved conflict leads to division amongst people, pastors, other congregations and other movements within the collective body of Christ.  It shouldn’t be this way. No wonder Jesus prayed for unity for the church before His death, burial and resurrection. We needed it then. We need it now.

I’m sure many of you reading this are well versed in the biblical way of resolving conflict. That stated, I’d thought I’d touch on this anyway for review purposes not only for you but for myself too.

First, if you have an issue with someone, deal with them directly if you believe the offence needs resolution. Some issues aren’t worth bringing up but we all have to make a determination if they are or not. If you determined they are not worth the time—then let them go. Forgive the other person and move on.

If the issue is worth acknowledging, then you need to address it with the suspected offender first—NOT SECOND.  You don’t need to get another person’s opinion. You don’t need to tell all your buddies, relatives, boyfriend, girlfriends, co-workers and others first.  That will only fuel the fire and cause more grief.  You need to first take this head on—with the other person involved.

Jesus was very specific about the process of “conflict resolution.”  It’s outlined it in the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 18.  It reads as follows:

15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-17 NKJV

As you can see, Jesus laid out a proper plan for resolution and escalation should it be required.  In most cases, taking it before the Church would be an extreme case and one you likely not going to see in today’s litigious society where the courts serve as the mediator in extreme cases.

That stated, we need to move toward living peacefully among men—having been ourselves given the ministry of reconciliation by the Lord.  And, although very difficult at times, we must learn and make a priority the skill of conflict resolution.

I’d argue that most divisions and separations that occur in relationships are the result of conflict unresolved or resolved the wrong way. They are the product of pent up frustration that simply explodes like a bomb. The results aren’t pretty.

Let this not be the case anymore. Let us move on from this into maturity as a body and be doers of the word—with Love being our motive.  I’ll leave you with the following scriptures.  I believe they are appropriate and to the point as relating to this issue.

9 “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.”  Romans 12:9-13  NKJV

17 “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”  Romans 12:17-18 NKJV