I am intrigued watching people attempt to resolve conflict. Some people are very good at it. They hit it head on. They go to the person with whom they have an issue and talk it through. No pulled punches, no dancing around the issues…they seek to resolve the conflict in a healthy, respectful way and quickly succeed.
Others choose what I call an anemic approach to conflict resolution. They start the complaint through email, or text, or even social media. They never pick up a phone to try to immediately resolve the problem. These folks just start publicly complaining…often saying things publicly that they would never say to someone face-to-face. Some are even more interested in the fight and winning than the actual complaint or resolving the issue.
Social media is a significant contributor to the anemic approach to conflict resolution. You don’t have to face anyone. You can say whatever you want and instantly something that should have been resolved privately spreads to hundreds or thousands of people. The argument itself takes on a life of its own and often the real issue is pushed aside. Email after email is exchanged over a period of days or weeks. Every line of the emails is scoured for inaccuracies and carefully crafted responses are shot back and forth. Others join in the fight. Opinions fly back and forth…and the sad part? These behaviors are done in full view of believers and unbelievers alike. It leaves folks saying that as believers in Christ we don’t handle conflict any better than non-believers.
So what is the Biblical mandate on conflict resolution? Let me take you to Matthew chapter 18. Here is what scripture tells us in verse 15.
If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.
May I suggest that this is a wonderful principle to follow regardless of the nature of any conflict? Do you notice how this verse is phrased? There are two particularly important words here. The first is go. The Bible doesn’t say to write a letter or in today’s world, leave a voice message, write a text, or post your issue to social media. The scripture say to go to them.
The second important word here is privately. Always resolve conflict in private whenever possible. You cut down on the possibility of more hurt feelings, you resolve the issue quickly, and you don’t present a poor witness for Christ as others watch a personal disagreement being discussed publicly.
We all make mistakes and we all have disagreements. That’s part of life. How we resolve them shows our true character. Resolve conflict using the Matthew 18 principle and your life will experience much more peace.