God’s Word has some great advice on how to handle conflict, and it’s not about how to “sink the other person’s battleship.” However, first and foremost, we must be intentional and proactive about it.
P – Plan a Peace Conference
Simply put, don’t ignore conflict, go to the person with whom you are having the conflict and talk it out. But planning a peace conference first must begin in prayer. When we are having a conflict with any individual, before going to speak with them, go to God to get some wisdom and clarity.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart and test my thoughts” (Psalm 139:23, LB).
It’s healthy for us to spend time with God asking Him to help us understand our mistakes and see our own hearts clearly. When we finally see the part we played in the conflict – what we selfishly did or hurtfully said that helped create conflict – the battle is half over. After we repent before God and receive His forgiveness, we are empowered to ask for and extend forgiveness to others with a clean heart.
“If you remember that your brother has something against you, go at once to make peace” (Matthew 5:24).
The longer you wait the harder it is and the more courage you’ll need to take the first step.
E – Empathize
“Be full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds” (1 Peter 3:8).
What does it mean to empathize with another? Don’t just plan a peace conference with your husband, wife, co-worker, teenager, partner at work, or friend; make it a point to be empathetic with them when you sit down to talk it out.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:3-8).
Paul’s instructions are clear: lay aside selfishness, it’s the root cause of conflict. Considered others better than ourselves – not others who are right, who have treated us properly, who deserve it – just others. Put yourself in their shoes; seek to feel what they feel, and see from their perspective. We must intentionally come out of our mindset and attempt to enter the world of the other person, like Jesus did when He came to earth.
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