Conflict is inevitable. No relationship is immune. When managed biblically, conflict can serve as a catalyst for change and an opportunity for spiritual and relational growth. Why then are we afraid to tell our friend her words hurt us, to ask our boss for a raise, or to confront our family member about his drinking problem and its effect on his family?
According to Ken Sande, author of The Peacemaker—A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict and president of Peacemaker® Ministries, a ministry devoted to equipping and assisting Christians to respond to conflict biblically, the reason is clear. "Many believers and their churches have not yet developed the ability to respond to conflict in a gospel-centered and biblically faithful manner," explains Sande. "When Christians become peacemakers, they can turn conflict into an opportunity to strengthen relationships and make their lives a testimony to the love and power of Jesus Christ."
What does a peacemaker look like?
"Peacemakers are people who breathe grace," says Sande. "They draw continually on the goodness and power of Jesus Christ, and then they bring his love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, and wisdom to the conflicts of daily life." Ken Sande, The Peacemaker—A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, seventh printing, May 2007), 11.
In addition to Ken Sande's book, consider the following excellent resources: Peacemaking Women by Tara Klena Barthel & Judy Dabler (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, second printing January 2007), Peacemaking for Families by Ken Sande and Tom Raabe (Focus on the Family 2002), How to Have that Difficult Conversation You've Been Avoiding (formerly Boundaries: Face to Face) by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005). For those caught in destructive conflict, I recommend Leslie Vernick's excellent book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship—Seeing It, Stopping It, Surviving It (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, third printing, 2007).
Do you naturally "breathe grace?" I don't. Yet, it is what God calls us to do. Not all of us are called to teach a Bible study, sing in the choir, or work with youth, but all of us are called to "go and be reconciled" (Matt. 5:24 NIV) to our brothers and sisters, our friends and family, and the people in our churches and community. God calls us all to be biblical peacemakers, to allow his redemptive, transforming love to spill over into our relationships.
This series of articles will show you how.
Based solidly on God's Word, this series of articles will give you what you need to respond to conflict biblically and constructively. You will learn the importance of prayer and preparation in resolving conflict, why you must first "take the log out of your own eye," how to confront someone in love, and how to navigate destructive conflict. What's more, you will hear from professional conciliators and Christian counselors who will give you solid, biblical tips to resolve conflict in your relationships.
God created us for relationship. Do not let unresolved conflict rob you of the joy that healthy relationships can bring. As you read these articles, invite God's Spirit to show you how to apply these biblical principles to your relationships. Then, "go and be reconciled" (Matthew 4:24 NIV) to your brother, sister, friend, and family members.
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