Understanding how conflicts arise and their levels of seriousness
Conflict is everywhere. Small children need to be guided through conflict when they learn about sharing and scream, “...But that’s MINE!” Adolescents could use some serious education through conflict when they begin to believe their parents are ignorant and rebelliously demand their way. Adults (especially spouses) need practical coaching when they clash with one another’s viewpoints on issues of importance. When it comes to social issues and politics, most of us - whether we know it or not - are desperate for direction in our deep conflicts, for without it we will destroy one another. The point is obvious. Conflicts abound at every stage of life and in most every circumstance in life. What can we do? How do we not just cope but overcome all of this conflict? Fortunately, the Bible is full of conflicts and therefore full of solutions!
Stages of conflict
The good news is all conflicts are not the same. The bad news is most conflicts end up in the category of not only unsolvable but massively destructive as well. Why would this be? To get a clear look at this, let’s look at the characteristics of a conflict that can be solved. According to John Maxwell, well-known leadership author and teacher, this kind of conflict is at the “Remedy Stage.” Here, there is not only a desire to fix the problem, but it is accompanied by commitment and belief. The two sides work at communicating. This sounds like a good recipe for success, and it is! So, why do most of our conflicts seem to degenerate into frenzied, unholy wars?
Winners and losers
Consider the simple thought that we don’t want to solve our conflicts; instead, we just want to win. The difference between finding a fair and equitable resolution to a conflict and overpowering the other side is incalculable. The conflict resolution we’re focusing on is about coexisting with fellow human beings in our own society. We’re not talking about sports competition or a matter of national security. Therefore, winning in a conflict situation triggers competition while resolution triggers communication. Winning triggers the naming of a loser, while resolution triggers trust. Winning triggers the demeaning of the other side, while resolution triggers respect. When we just want to win in our conflicts, we are really saying we simply don’t care about those on the other side.
So, what do we do? Check out our September 21, 2020 podcast, “Can Biblical Strategies Solve Serious Conflicts? (Part 1)” for more. We begin by exploring many of the ways conflicts can arise and identify trends that bring us towards or away from resolution. We invest significant time examining the five degenerating stages of conflict and give scriptural examples of each.
Conflict resolution is rapidly becoming a lost art in today’s world. This two-part series is designed to plainly put the issues on the table and determine appropriate Christian responses. We ALL deal with many conflicts in life, so why not learn how to address them in the godliest ways possible?
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