Whether encountering or managing conflict, it’s always uncomfortable. Here’s the thing: conflict can actually become a huge source of healthy growth for your LifeGroup.
I was always told not to talk about religion and politics. Why? Because these topics tend to lead to conflict. The hidden statement here is, “Avoid conflict.” I grew up believing this hidden statement. So, when tension or hurt feelings occurred, it threw me for a tailspin. Fortunately, our greatest teacher, Jesus, taught about managing conflict in Matthew 18. I encourage you to read through this passage and think about how you do and don’t follow Jesus’ model.
Years ago, I experienced some pain after another person in my LifeGroup made some off-the-cuff remarks over a series of time. Comments about parenting styles, different biblical understanding, and statements about our home led me to slowly withdraw from our LifeGroup conversation. I chose to become less vulnerable, which meant I stopped growing. I was making the wrong choice with my response.
Because of jobs and opportunities, couples moved away, and our group eventually ended. Sadly, I never spoke up about my feelings. Years later, I’ve realized this person’s intent was never to hurt me; they were just unaware of the impact of their words. When we let our fear of conflict keep us silent, we keep ourselves from getting closer to each other—and to Christ.
Conflict is certain in life. If you’re like me, you’re thinking, Yeah, it’s certainly uncomfortable. Seriously, from parenting, to dating, to politics, to theological debates, there is one thing in common: people. But remember, our enemy is not a person. Our enemy wants to destroy people (Ephesians 6:12). So, when you face conflict, instead of digging in your heels and sticking to your facts, focus on restoring a healthy friendship with each other and with God.
Remember these four things when dealing with conflict.
- Be willing to be uncomfortable. God grows us when we’re uncomfortable, so embrace the honored opportunity to grow and develop. Don’t take it personally, but pray humbly and specifically for awareness and understanding of the core issue that’s causing the tension.
- Focus on the heart. Ask God to search your heart to illuminate anything you need to ask forgiveness for. Next, pray for restoration in relationships with Christ as the focus. Finally, pursue restoration with people. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 NIV
- Get help. Put these 7 Conflict Quick Tips into action, or invite your Community Leader in to the conversation when needed. Don’t wait to resolve conflict. Now is nearly always better than later.
- Sometimes, you’ll experience heartache. We are human, and missing the mark is inevitable. But failure is an event, not a person. Fail forward by allowing God to heal your heart and use your pain as a valuable life lesson.
Conflict can be messy because it involves the hearts and feelings of people we care about. But God will lead you through it with prayer, truth, and love.
And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18 NLT