Are you building walls or bridges in your interpersonal conflict?
Left unchecked in conflict, we build four walls that disconnect us from others. First, we hold on to conflict, mulling over our selfish perspective of the two objects attempting to occupy the same space at the same time. Second, we foolishly seek the satisfaction of our selfish motives, neglecting to discover the motives of others involved in the conflict. Third, we fail to effectively communicate our motives. If we attempt to do so, we usually describe only our selfish desires, speaking with pride and foolishness. Finally, we leave the conflict unresolved. Today, marriages, families, ministries, teams, and marketplace relationships fail from a lack of intimacy, or knowledge.
Proverbs tells us that knowledge deepens our relationships and increases our strength to resolve conflict. Solomon taught: “A man of knowledge increases strength” (Proverbs 24:5b). Therefore, knowledge intimately navigates us through conflict to community in our relationships. Solomon gave us four steps to wisely connect with the innermost part of the person with whom we are having conflict: (1) surrender our conflict to God (see Proverbs 1:7), (2) seek the motives of the persons involved (see Proverbs 18:15), (3) spell out our motives humbly and wisely (see Proverbs 15:7), and (4) solve the conflict by discovering common ground (see Proverbs 11:9).
Surrender your conflict to God through prayer. Surrender your motives, the person involved, the problem, and the outcome. Ask God to shape your heart and desires to reflect His, giving you the knowledge for wise conflict management. Stop white knuckling any selfish desires.
Seek the motives of the person involved in your conflict by asking and listening. Move from focusing on the outside to exploring the inside of your counterpart. First, ask questions that reveal motives of the heart: “What do you desire? Why?” Second, listen to what motives the person is attempting to describe.
Spell out your motives humbly and wisely. Use restraint by keeping proud and foolish words in the dark.
Solve your conflict by discovering common ground in your motives with those of the other person involved. Use words that build bridges rather than put up walls. Don’t be in a hurry to force someone into a manufactured quick fix. God will navigate you through conflict to community.