Conflict is a part of life.
You will be misunderstood.
Someone will get offended.
I will say something foolish.
You will forget a deadline that causes a business disaster.
(Add your examples here.)

I love what Marshall Shelly said,

Often we think, “If I just ignore the problem, it might go away.” However, most problems that require confrontation do not go away. They are infections: if we ignore them, they get worse. Soon that nagging pain in one toe becomes blood poisoning.

Mark Gerzon’s article on the Harvard Business Review, he says that to resolve a conflict, first decide: Is it hot or cold?

This is how he distinguished the two:

Hot conflict is when one or more parties are highly emotional and doing one or more of the following: speaking loudly or shouting; being physically aggressive, wild or threatening; using language that is incendiary; appearing out of control and potentially explosive.

Cold conflict is when one or more parties seem to be suppressing emotions, or actually appear “unemotional,” and are doing one or more of the following: muttering under their breath or pursing their lips; being physically withdrawn or controlled; turning away or otherwise deflecting contact; remaining silent or speaking in a tone that is passively aggressive; appearing shut down or somehow frozen.

If the conflict is hot: You don’t want to bring participants in a hot conflict together in the same room without settings ground rules that are strong enough to contain the potentially explosive energy.

If the conflict is cold: You can usually go ahead and bring the participants or stakeholders in the conflict together, engaging them in constructive communication. That dialogue, if properly facilitated, should “warm up” the conflict enough so that it can begin to thaw out and start the process of transformation.

Chuck Lawless, Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC suggests that we need to ask some questions when dealing with conflict. Allow me to share some of the questions he lists down to help us determine how much energy we are to devote to the issue at hand.

1. Will this issue matter a year from now?
2. How many people are truly opposed?
3. What does the Bible say?
4. Do I need to involve others in my decision-making process?
5. What’s the worst thing that can happen here, and can I live with that possibility?
6. Can I put this fire out with a squirt gun (or even a bucket)?
7. Have I prayed about my response?

But however you may approach the conflict, remember what Paul the apostle said in Ephesians 4:3, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

May the Lord give us the wisdom to keep the unity for it is good and pleasant for God’s people to dwell in unity. (Psalm 133)

offendedbh0Offense is one of the biggest relationship-wreckers in the church today.

“He said what?”
“She did that?”
“I can’t believe they let me go through this!”
“How dare he do this to me!”

The temptation is to get as many people to ‘our side’ and tell them ‘our version’ of the story.  This way, we can protect our image and reputation.  The more, the better, so they say.

Yet the Bible gives us a way to deal with offenses and faults.

1. Go straight to the person.

Matthew 18:15. “If your brother sins against you,​a​ go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”

There’s no skirting the issue.  Filipino culture has a natural aversion to confrontation.  But there’s no other way to resolve it than meeting it head on.  You wish you can wish it away, but that’ll never happen.

The critical thing is to keep it “just between the two of you.”  No need to share “prayer requests”.

2. Find others who can help with the situation.

Matthew 18:16. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

My principle has always been “part of the problem; part of the solution.”  If the person is not part of the problem nor can be part of the solution, I won’t bring them in the discussion.  There’s no need to.

3. Just on very extreme cases…

Matthew 18:17.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

These circumstances would be rare and extreme.  But it would be good to keep in mind because there are ‘wolves in sheep’s’ clothing.

Yet in all these, the Bible tells us to season our conversation with grace and to speak the truth in love.