As much as we wish we could, it’s impossible to avoid conflict – even with people we care the most about. The good news is conflict doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed!
Conflicting perspectives are a part of life, but the way we navigate them with others is what makes or breaks a relationship. The Bible has a lot to say about how to handle conflict with others.
How to handle conflicting perspectives
James 1:19 gives us simple advice that can help us get better at handling conflict in our relationships: “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” Here’s how to apply those three principles when conflict arises:
Listening is a skill that doesn’t come naturally to many, especially in the heat of an argument. It's surprising how a minor disagreement about something trivial can escalate into a major conflict simply because we fail to listen to each other.
Being quick to listen means more than just hearing words. It means listening with the intent to understand, not merely to reply. It involves asking questions, showing genuine interest in the other person's perspective, and providing space for them to express themselves. This approach communicates that their viewpoint holds value, even if it differs from our own.
Our knee-jerk reactions often lead us to say or do things in the heat of the moment that we later regret. Taking a beat to collect our thoughts and emotions before responding is crucial. It’s not about suppressing our feelings or shutting down but about giving ourselves the time to choose our words and actions wisely.
If you tend to be a reactor, the advice isn’t to stay silent but to be deliberate in your responses. Swift reactions can inflame a disagreement, making resolution more challenging. Slowing down our responses allows for a more measured and thoughtful approach to the conflict at hand.
Humility is a powerful tool in resolving conflicts. It requires setting aside our pride and considering others as equally important, if not more so, than ourselves. Humility enables us to make the first move towards reconciliation, to acknowledge our faults, and to apologize when necessary.
Embracing humility might seem uncomfortable, as it demands us to step out of our comfort zones and admit when we are wrong. Yet, it’s this quality that can draw people closer and encourage others to reflect on their role in the conflict. It’s the cornerstone of rebuilding bridges that might have seemed damaged beyond repair.
Conflict is a natural part of relationships, but how we handle it determines the direction of those relationships. By being quick to listen, slow to speak, and walking humbly, we pave the way for understanding, empathy, and growth. It’s not just about resolving conflicts in the moment; it’s about fostering a culture of respect, understanding, and love within our relationships.
When to address conflict
When we find ourselves stuck with unresolved conflict without a path forward, it can create an inner tension and anxiety that inadvertently spills over into our other relationships. That’s why Jesus encourages us to address conflict as soon as possible - because he knows how quickly conflict aversion can cause irreversible damage. Here’s what he says in Matthew 5:
“If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”
Resolving conflict is so important to Jesus that he wants us to address it right away.
Conflicting perspectives will arise, but they don't have to signal the end of a relationship. By listening quickly, reacting slowly, and staying humble, we can transform conflicts into opportunities for growth and deeper connections. These principles are not just strategies for conflict resolution; they’re the foundation for stronger, more resilient relationships that withstand the test of time.
God wants us to have encouraging, meaningful relationships, and as a church we want to help you cultivate them! Here are some additional resources to help you foster valuable relationships:
Why Conflict Aversion is Hurting Your Relationships
How to Deal With Negative People
Is Being Offended a Sign of Weakness?
LCBC stands for Lives Changed By Christ. We are one church in multiple locations across Pennsylvania. Find the location closest to you or join us for Church Online. We can’t wait to connect with you!