This past week I got into a conflict with someone. Unfortunately, my natural mode during conflict is to go into turtle mode. If I don’t work at it, it is very easy for me to push the conflict aside and just get busy with work and ignore the problem.
Well, God has a way of making us face difficulties to make us grow. During my quiet time, I read:
So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.
– Romans 14:19 (NLT)
Grrr. That was not what I wanted to hear. I shut my Bible and went on with my day.
The Bible has a way of embedding itself even when we don’t want to listen. Throughout the day, this verse kept coming to mind. Finally, I made some steps in my usual indirect Asian manner to make amends.
My efforts were totally wasted on my non-Asian friend. They (these posts will refer to individuals as “they” for anonymity’s sake) didn’t realize I was trying to be obedient in striving for harmony. I went back to my projects and sulked.
I’m sorry to say that the conflict was not resolved due to spiritual maturity on my part. I made small steps but there was a large chasm to be crossed. Fortunately they reached out to me, and after multiple conversations, the conflict was resolved.
The NIV says we should make every effort to work towards “peace” and “mutual edification.” But I like the word harmony better. This verse reminds us that our goal is to build up the people around us, not to tear them down. So, here’s the focus for the day:
Build each other up by resolving conflict.
Say sorry. Such a simple word, only five letters, but incredibly difficult to do. Even if you think the other person wronged you, there is something you can apologize about — your attitude, your negative thoughts about the person, your actions, or for hurting the other person. Tip: one thing not to say, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” (Sounds condescending!) Instead, focus your apology around something you did. (For some people, this step will be a Run step because it is so difficult!)
Take the first step. We’d rather wait for someone else to come to us first to make amends. When we take the first step, we model what God did in how He sent His son to die for us, to initiate reconciliation with us. It’s as simple as saying, “Can we talk?”
Don’t tell others about the conflict. When we are angry, it is easy for us to go vent to other people. Matthew 18:13 says, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.” This conflict remains between you and him. If you are unable to resolve it directly, then it’s time to bring in one or two other people. But in the meantime, keep your mouth shut to avoid gossip.