Read Matthew 7:5 and Proverbs 19:11. What two important principles can help us avoid conflict with others?
The writer of the Proverbs makes a very astute observation: “The start of an argument is like a water leak —so stop it before real trouble breaks out” (Prov. 17:14, CEV). Once begun, a conflict can become incredibly hard to shut down. According to Romans 14:19, we can prevent conflict by following after two things: that which makes for peace and that with which one may edify another. How much more so are these principles crucial to harmony in the family?
Sometimes when you admit your responsibility in a conflict, it may cause the other party to soften. Take a step back and consider if it’s even a worthy battle. Proverbs states, “Those with good sense are slow to anger, and it is their glory to overlook an offense” (Prov. 19:11, NRSV). At the same time, consider what difference this is going to make in your life in three days. Better yet, what impact will it have in five or ten years? How many marriages, for instance, have had difficult times over issues that today seem so trivial?
Instead of letting conflict drag on for a long time, as you speak with the other person, a spouse, a child, a friend, a co-worker, you may want to clearly define the problem or issue of discussion and stay on the immediate topic. Conflict often deteriorates when the issue that started the conflict gets lost in angry words; meanwhile, past issues or past hurts are tossed into the mix (this can be deadly, especially to a marriage). One way to have a better and softer start to the discussion is to affirm your relationship. Let the other person know that you care deeply about them and about your relationship. Once you have stated your positive feelings, you can move to the issue at hand; however, be careful not to use the word but. Stating a positive thought and then saying “but” negates what you just stated. Once you share your feelings, listen to the other person’s perspective, reflect on what he or she has said, and only then propose a solution that keeps everyone’s best interests in mind (Phil. 2:4-5).
|Think back about some conflicts that now appear so silly and meaningless. What can you learn from those experiences that could help, at least from your side, prevent something similar from happening again?|