The Power Of Conflict

The average employee in the US will spend about 2.8hrs per week navigating some form of conflict. That amounts to about 3.9 Billion dollars spent in the workplace each year just dealing with conflict. Conflict is a regular part of most of our lives, whether we like it or not.

Most people that I talk to are either afraid of it or do their best to avoid conflict as much as possible. Maybe you can relate? Do you find yourself constantly trying to avoid situations where you might have to voice a different opinion than others? It is interesting when we really begin to look at our lives, our workplace, our parenting, our marriages, our friendships etc, and ask ourselves the question; “What place does conflict have in my life”?

Go back to your childhood for a few minutes and reflect on the environment that you grew up in. Do remember your parents arguing? Was conflict just a regular part of your family dynamic? Perhaps some of you grew up in a home environment where disagreements were dealt with in quiet or avoided altogether.

 

The truth is that conflict can be a powerful element in Discipleship when it is handled in a manner that matches God’s word. Think about it this way; If the point of engaging in conflict with someone is just so that you can prove your point or be considered “Right” then I would argue that you (and I fall into this category at times as well) are missing out on the power and effectiveness that Godly conflict can have in our relationships. Especially in our Discipleship relationships

When I think back to the most impactful moments in my life where something drastically changed for the better in my perspective of myself, of God or of others, it was most often a result of some form of conflict.

One specific instance was a time early in my ministry career. My boss and I had begun to disagree on how the ministry that I was overseeing should operate and what the focus should be. We spent countless hours tip-toeing around our opinions, too afraid and not willing to speak boldly but respectfully to one another. After about 9 months of this I finally lost it and spewed out everything I was feeling and thinking. He responded in a similar way.

 

The problem wasn’t that we disagreed. It was the fact that neither of us took the time to biblically walk through why we disagreed and how we could work to reconcile our different opinions in a place of humility.

This happens in Discipleship all the time! I hear things like “I just can’t get through to the person I’m investing in” or “The person discipling me just can’t see things from my point of view”. Both of these statements are often true. But the power in conflict doesn’t come when we avoid these conversations, it comes when we press into them even though it is uncomfortable. The point of conflict ultimately should always be restoration and reconciliation. This is one of the ways that we can grow closer to those that God has put in our lives.

Some of the people that I trust the most in my life are those that I have had disagreements with and we have worked through it. These relationships have been made stronger in each instance because we walked away knowing that the other person cared enough to say hard things.

Here are 3 of the most important things to consider when dealing with conflict:

#1 – It’s usually not what is communicated, it’s how it is communicated: Body language, tone, environment, pace and so many other factors play into how we communicate. Keep these things in mind when dealing with difficult conversations. Check your posture! Are you bowed up ready to throw a punch if it comes to that or are you communicating humility, respect and a desire to work through things?

 

#2 – Say hard things: This doesn’t mean that you should be a jerk. This doesn’t mean that if you just start your rude statement with something like “With all due respect,” that you can then say something that you know is going to be a cheap shot. Be clear with your concern and be careful with how you deliver it. Don’t let fear however, stop you from speaking the truth in love.


#3 – Communicate the “Why”: Jesus was regularly involved in conversations that were tense. He would often challenge the belief system of those that were closest to him. But if you read the scriptures and look deeply into those instances, it was always because Jesus cared more about the state of their hearts and their eternity than He cared about just getting his point across.


If we consider these truths in our relationships with those that we are discipling, I can promise you that the result, although painful at times, will be fruit in those relationships. Consider taking some time to go back and look at how Jesus handled conflict. Try to identify His heart in those instances and earnestly spend time asking the Lord to give you the same heart for those that you are investing in.

Patrick Annotti

Real Life Ministries Online Campus Pastor

This post was originally shared on The Makers Project : The Power of Conflict