The Olympic Games symbolize a world of cultures coming together in peaceful assembly to compete. Even as news of bombings and terrorists threaten to dampen the spirit of peace, the Games will continue to bring the world together, winning the peace. Why? Because there is a higher purpose which prevails over lesser conflicts.
While the Games bring peace for a few weeks, we all have conflicts to resolve at home, at work and in our relationships. Winning the peace is absolutely important to God. Jesus is even named the “Prince of Peace” and peace is a fruit of the Spirit of God that blossoms when we are following God’s ways. Peace is mentioned in the Bible more than 200 times, often used as a greeting and instruction. For example:
- “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” — Psalm 34:14
- “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” — Romans 14:19
Jesus said in John 13:35 that “…Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” So, we have a mandate to win peace and show love. Remember, God allows disagreement to provide the necessary pressure required to develop our character and grow us up. There is a purpose behind conflict and pressure.
God knows conflict is inevitable. But He also knows destruction resulting from conflict is optional.
It’s always easier said than done, right? The enemy also uses conflict and lies to confuse our minds, and too often we say things we don’t mean, and speak before we think. Wars have started and ended with words. So how do we defuse the bombs that blow up relationships?
As we move through the new year, here are a few guidelines for how to resolve conflict, win peace and find God’s desire in disagreement. But first, we have to assume:
- Both people, or parties, must want peace between them. If one person would rather fight to be right, or just fight, rather than find a resolution, then it’s impossible to move forward.
- Seek a Good Timing. What I learn from Mark 9 when the disciples were arguing is that Jesus waited until He had the right place and time to address their discussion about who is the greatest. In today’s world, the same is true. Often, addressing conflict at the moment it arises brings further contempt and draws the line in the sand. And, if we have children or co-workers in the mix, it’s best to arrange a time and place when they are not around. There’s no need to disrupt their concept of the marriage or team environment.
- Seek the Right Attitude. Winning the peace starts with winning the peace in yourself. Jesus addressed conflict with grace and truth. As you approach your meeting, be humble about the circumstance and your role, be teachable and open to correction. Don’t be defensive, argumentative. Work together as teammates to find resolution. Here are the ground rules for the right attitude:
- DON’T escalate. DO seek truth.
- DON’T tear down. DO own truth.
Your attitude should be open to answering: What is the truth about your part? What is the truth about the situation? What is the truth about the circumstances and goings on AROUND the situation that might be producing feelings and behaviors that are leading someone to be afraid or angry?
Then, most humbly address, “What has been my contribution to the situation?”
When we own it, we diffuse it.
- Seek Understanding vs. Winning. Instead of drawing up sides to debate, join the other person’s side to see their perspective and gain understanding. It’s the old concept, “put yourself in another person’s shoes.” Works wonders if you can set aside your pride and fear.
One tip from a therapist friend of mine is to use “I” statements, instead of pointing the finger with “you” statements. Ex. “I feel sad when I’m in conflict because of a misunderstanding.”
How will the other person know you are pursuing peace instead of trying to win?
- I validate their feelings versus try to make the feelings go away or fix them.
- I turn and face the person physically rather than stare off into space or make faces.
- I repeat what they have expressed rather than “delete” them from the conversation.
- I act on what is discovered (either way) versus ignore.
- Seek to Listen More. Hearing is a biological phenomenon, but listening is an acquired skill. Hearing helps us to interact with our environment. Listening helps us connect with people. Satan loves a bad listener because it kills intimacy, creates resentment, and increases negative emotions inside that make those who hold onto them vulnerable to being controlled by those feelings and emotions.
- Seek to Talk Less. Pride and fear make us talk more. Humility and faith give us the power and freedom to talk less. Take turns. Listen when the other person talks. Don’t interrupt. Secure people talk less. The most secure people I know are those who know, at a very deep level, that they are accepted, loved eternally, and forgiven already by God. Those realities mean, in the most literal sense, you will be OK no matter what event, disagreement, or loss precipitates a human conflict.
- Seek to Please God in Disagreements. James 1:19 tells us how, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”
Ultimately, our role as explained in Mark 9:35 is to be a servant of all. I have learned in life that people want to be respected, and empowered to some degree. If we realize this, and follow these guidelines, then we can disarm the bombs that blow up relationships.
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Kenny Luck is the president and founder of Every Man Ministries. As the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church in California, Kenny has found the proven way to improve men’s ministries around the world. Sleeping Giant is this blueprint, and gives men the tools they need to lead and understand their own men’s ministry. Watch Kenny’s teachings at EveryManMinistries.com and get started today.