3 Ways to Respond to Conflict

This post is part of our series on Biblical Peacemaking for Families: Resolving Conflict by God’s Grace! Read the first post in this series here.

Our culture today {largely through TV and movies but also through pop-psychology} has taught us many things about how to fight. We are taught to be selfish. To look out for #1. Women are taught to not take anything from men…

And yet, those “fighting styles” that are touted to be the “secrets to a happy family” are far from good advice. The only place we can look too for true advice and how to lead our families is in Scripture. From the pages of Scripture we get pictures of three different “ways” to fight. Once we understand these styles and how we fight, we can begin to repair the damage done by conflict.

3 Ways to Resolve Conflict

All of us at some point in our marriages and families have responded in unbiblical and destructive ways to conflict. It’s why many marriages fall apart and why many families don’t speak. But if we turn to the pages of Scripture we can glean the wisdom that was penned so long ago and apply it to our families and marriages.

3 Ways to  Respond to Conflict

The beautiful thing about Scripture is that God intimately knew who he was writing to – fallen humans with a nature to sin. Because of that he left us stories and examples in the Bible that we can really relate to and learn from. For a more detailed look at each of these three responses, visit The Slippery Slope of Conflict.

The Runner

The first way to respond to conflict is through escape. This type of person simply dreads conflict. They will go to any length to avoid confrontation – even going as far as to sin to avoid conflict.

This brings to mind the husband who gets home late from work (again) and runs out to his garage to fix something as soon as his wife starts asking why he is late and didn’t call. He stays in his garage until he is sure his wife is asleep and slips upstairs thankful that he doesn’t have to bare the questions.

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.” ~ James 4:1-2

 

The Fighter

The fighter typically wants to “win” the argument at all costs. As much as they might hate conflict, they also thrive in the moment of conflict and are more concerned with winning then coming to mutual understanding and forgiveness.

From the example above, the wife is a fighter. She corners her husband the second he walks in the door and peppers {or nags} him with questions of why he is home late, why didn’t he call, how could it possibly have taken him so long to get home? Her questions turn into a lecture. The husband escapes to the garage. All the while the wife is thinking up ways she can “get through to him”. She waits up and as soon as she hears the door shut downstairs, she rushes into the hallway to have another “discussion” with her husband. This couple goes to bed, angry and feeling alone.

 “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” ~ James 1:19

 

The Peacemaker

Of course every person will probably not fall into these easy categories. In fact, even within one argument you might transition from one response to another. You might start out trying to flee from the argument but over time you turn and attack!

This is not how Scripture tells us to handle conflict. We are to be selfless in our relationships, mimicking Christ! Here are a fews ways you can be a Peacemaking in the midst of conflict:

1) Overlook the offense

So many conflicts could be avoided all together if he overlook what offended us. This might look like the escape response, but this is truly forgiving and forgetting!

Each little incident in your relationships doesn’t have to be a knock-out fight! Truly forgive the person for the offense and move on.

“The vexation of a fool is known at once,but the prudent ignores an insult.” ~ Proverbs 12:16

 

2) Discuss the offense

Sometimes conflict must be dealt with, such as in the case of unrepentant sin. Sometimes we must be the ones to confess the wrongs we’ve done {and be ready to do that}! And other times we must lovingly confront another person.

This should never be done out of anger but rather in love for that person and your relationship!

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” ~ Matthew 5:23-24

 

3) Negotiate 

This is similar to discussing the issues but with negotiating you are resolving to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.

You each share your thoughts and concerns {in a respectful non-angry manner} and discuss what you can do about the situation.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” ~ Philippians 2:4

If all else fails

The next step in Peacemaking, if the above strategies have failed, is to take this matter to someone else and eventually the church. We model this after Matthew 18:

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.” ~ Matthew 18: 15-17

I know many of these beginning Peacemaking tips might seem dry…but they are foundational to your understanding of Biblical Peacemaking! To learn more pick up Peacemaking for Families.

Read more in this series:

Biblical Peacemaking for Families Series

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  1. […] If we mess up then we fix it by talking with our spouse and apologizing. Swallowing our pride and admitting we’re wrong is never easy but it is necessary to a strong marital relationship not to mention personal peace. […]