In different parts of the world, the failure to exhaustively resolve conflicts has drastically hampered effective growth and development, hence propagating human suffering. This is against the will of God, as He aims all of us to live harmoniously, as indicated in the Holy Bible among other notable publications. At the family level, conflicts between different family members can result from to clash of beliefs and different views among other notable aspects. From a personal perspective, conflicts at the family level have hindered my success, thus there is a need to seek for a permanent solution.
Prior to becoming a Christian two years ago, I was engaged in dangerous activities, such as drinking, petty robberies, and smoking cigarettes. During this duration, I was studying Economics at the Metropolitan College of New York, which is one of the most prestigious colleges in the City of New York. This, apparently, affected my studies, as most of the time I was in the clubs among other social places, along with my friends who had become accustomed to these environments. After one year in college, I was arrested by police due to misconduct and sentenced to six months, thus abruptly ending my school life. During this time, I got saved and decided to change from my wicked ways, as well as return to school immediately after the sentence.
However, after the six month sentence, my brother Alex became angry after my father, Paul, agreed to pay school fees, so that I could resume studies. Alex alleged that I have spent a lot of our family resources, due to numerous fines, which have been paid by my parents on damages they incurred due to my reckless living prior to getting saved. As a result of this, my father halted all plans to pay school fees, thus forcing me to stay at home. Despite numerous attempts by my parents and counsellors to try to solve this conflict, it has been hard for us to forgive each other, a factor that has hampered the relationship between all family members. It would be my great pleasure if this conflict was solved, to enable me resume my studies.
Conflict Provides Opportunities
It is apparent that conflict is viewed by people in different ways. Some people view a conflict as a hazard, which threatens their comfort levels and leaves them feeling hurt, as well as bruised. On the other hand, some see it as an obstacle that needs to be overcome immediately, irrespective of its consequences. People have also learned that the conflicts can be an opportunity to address the problems they face in their daily living in a way that pleases God while offering benefits to those in conflict. The conflict has provided an opportunity for the victim to know Christ.
This is due to the fact that the conflict was an opportunity that exposed all the sinful acts of the victim. Through the realization of their existence, the victim was able to seek God’s forgiveness. In addition, conflict provides an opportunity for one to be more like Christ. Evidently, the conflict opportunities provide some basic principles which help in the process of peace making and resolving conflicts. The four principles enable one to answer four questions that help him to resolve the conflict. The victim should ask himself how he can honour, as well as please God in his situation; get the log out of his eye. The victim should know how he can demonstrate the works of the Lord by being responsible for his contribution to the conflict; go and be reconciled. The victim should know how he can enhance a solution to the conflict so that his family could live in peace again. Applying these principles to the conflict in question will result to an effective conflict management for the family. Moreover, the victim will be left feeling free of his actions, despite the actions of his father and brother who are opposing him.
Live in Peace
For people to be able to solve conflicts, they should be in a position to live in peace. Evidently, Alex opposed his brother. For the insults, the victim was not answerable, but he could be answerable for his conduct towards him. To be at peace, the victim has no right to begin warfare with his brother, Alex. This way, it will be possible to solve their differences. According to the scriptures, blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God (Mt. 5:9). As God’s children, we should always seek to build peace where a conflict exists. The peace should be sought with God, as well as with others. It is evident that the Lord made peace with man through the Gospel.
In addition, He sends man to preach reconciliation. The aim of the gospel is to help to turn people from enemies to families. As man was reconciled with God to become His child, the victim should use the example of the Holy Bible to reconcile and re-join his separated family, just as man was reconciled to God to become His child. We can only be reconciled with God if we are in peace with others. Clearly, bitterness and having the unforgiving heart are the opposite of a Christian’s life. In order to bring peace and reconciliation to his family, the victim needs to make the required sacrifices.
Trust in the Lord and Do Good
We are often faced with situations which are hard for us to resolve on our own. This is the exact situation that the victim and his family are experiencing. In this situation, it is of paramount that the victim seeks strength from the Lord, so that he is in a position to handle the case. Therefore, it is crucial for the victim to trust and pour his heart to Him, as He will act as his refuge. The victim should delight in the Lord for him to fulfil the desires of his heart to bring peace in his family. Furthermore, he should commit his peace making process to the Lord, trusting in him as he shall bring it to be. Trusting in the Lord, the victim and his family should feel that the Lord rules and that all he permits is permitted wisely. In addition, the victim should always try to be engaged in acts of benevolence.
It is apparent that the world is full of wicked men. Despite their acts around us, we should always seek to do what is right. This is due to the fact that, the only way the wickedness of the world can be overcome is by doing good. Therefore, despite Paul refusing to pay the school fees of his son due to his wicked ways in the past, the son should not complain or act wickedly to his father and brother, as these actions will worsen the situation rather than help them to solve the issue.
Get the Log Out Of Your Eye
Is This Really Worth Fighting Over?
In conflict resolution, it is of paramount importance for those involved in defining the issues that are separating them. Typically, conflicts are usually of two types: those brought about by material issues, and those as a result of personal issues. Material issues are such issues as money, property, responsibilities and rights. Evidently, material issues are usually addressed by negotiation and cooperation by the both parties involved. Personal issues, on the other hand, entail the issues that go on either inside or between persons. In addition, they involve the feelings and attitudes towards others that are a result of how they have been treated. The personal feelings are normally expressed by feelings and statements such as ‘I am not happy with the way you are treating me.’ In most conflicts, the two types of conflicts are tangled together. Clearly, the two types of issues aggravate and feed on each other.
This dynamic makes minor disagreements grow into full blown quarrels. For instance, in our case, the victim and his brother, Alex, should try to identify the issues that have separated them. Evidently, theirs is the issue of the family resources, whereby Alex feels that his brother is misusing the resources. Once they have sorted the issues that are separating them, they should then decide on the steps that they should take to address the problem. In solving the issues, it is extremely crucial to look at every issue and ask ourselves ‘is it really worth fighting over?’ When there are significant issues involved, it is essential to use the conflict resolution steps, which include arbitration and negotiation. However, from the Biblical point of view, it is never worth fighting over any issue. Issues should be dropped and resolved amicably and as quiet as possible.
Conflict Starts in the Heart
It is true to say that conflicts always start due to some kind of desires from the heart. Certain desires are integrally wrong, for instance, lust, vengeance, or agreed. However, some are not. Desiring such things as peace, respectful children, quietness, and professional success, is not wrong at all. It is apparent that these are the things that are worth seeking in reasonable ways. It is apparent that when man sees something as being necessary for his wellbeing, with time it moves from being a desire to a demand and later, to a must have. As a result of this, troubles began. We should, therefore, be careful about the initial thoughts, despite being inherently good, take control of our thoughts, as well as behaviour. When someone is standing in the way of good desires, just as Alex is doing to his brother who is seeking resume classes, it is in order to try and talk about it together.
If decisions cannot be reached by the two conflicting parties, it is appropriate to seek the help of a mediator or a trusted pastor. Since our case is a case of a family, if the involved people do not agree, they have to choose between two courses of action. Alternatively, the victim should seek his fulfilment in the Lord by putting all his trust in Him. Moreover, one should continue showing love to the person standing in the way and blocking his desires. The Holy Scriptures state that we should pray for those standing in our way for God’s consecrating work in their lives. Moreover, one, as the victim, should wait for the Lord to open His doors for him to progress later.
Confession Brings Freedom
It immensely matters to make a sincere and selfless apology. Just as the Lord opens our eyes so that we could see our trespasses against others, this is exactly the same way He enables us to find freedom from our past misdoings. It is apparent that a number of people have never experienced this kind of freedom that comes as a result of confession. This is due to the fact that most people have never learnt how to honestly and unconditionally confess their wrongs. Apparently, instead of people confessing, they make use of such statements as ‘I am sorry if I hurt you’. These kinds of statements barely activate any genuine reconciliation and forgiveness.
It is true to say that confessing is hard and difficult. However, the benefits of confessing both to the person seeking forgiveness and the person supposed to offer the forgiveness, are remarkable. In addition, they are not hard to see. He further says that we should seek God to assist us breathe the grace that will help us to admit our wrongs humbly. A good way that we can do this is by employing the seven A’s, which are;
• addressing all those you have affected with our wrong deeds
• avoid the excusing words such as ‘if’, ‘but’ and maybe
• admit our attitudes and actions specifically
• acknowledge the hurt
• accept the consequences
• alter our behaviour by changing our actions and attitudes
• ask for forgiveness
By using the seven A’s, the victim should try to resolve the problem between him and his family. This way, it will bring freedom to him and create the peace that his family needs in order for them to live in harmony.
Just Between the Two of You
In a conflict with someone, the first step towards reconciliation should be approaching the other party and proposing forgiveness. In order for people to resolve a conflict privately, they can be coached on conflict resolution so as to make the process successful. As a Christian, one is supposed to use the Bible when resolving a conflict; in other words, we should always follow the example and teachings of Christ. Jesus, in the book of Matthew 5: 23-24 advises Christians to go and reconcile with their brothers, whom they are in disagreement with. He further suggests that this reconciliation should be in private, where each party will point out the faults of the other party. Subsequently, those at fault are supposed to confess and be forgiven so as to prevent further escalation of the conflict.
Christians should always correct those at fault in a loving manner and show them the path of forgiveness and reconciliation. In obeying God’s law on forgiving one another, as a Christian, one should focus on imitating God by not letting personal emotions interfere with the reconciliation process. When we obey God’s law, we ensure that a conflict does not escalate to extreme points. Resoling a conflict as per the scriptural teachings yields immeasurable satisfaction for both parties, as well as helps the disputing teams to be closer to God than before. In addition, one should acknowledge that resolving a conflict through a gospel- focused approach will allow both parties to learn how to work together against common problems. In private conflict resolution, God uses us to help others in becoming aware of their faults, as well as identifying areas where they need to change. However, this correction should be done in a gentle way without passing judgement on the opponent so as to bring people closer to God.
Speak the Truth in Love
When resolving conflicts, words should be carefully used, since they can either resolve a conflict or aggravate the situation of not properly used. Therefore, as Christians, we are called upon to resolve a conflict using kind words that are not judgemental, in order to prevent further escalation of a conflict. Christians should seek a gospel-oriented approach in resolving a conflict, instead of opting for legal measures that are in most cases harsh. Further Biblical example of Eph. 4: 15, which says that when we speak the truth in love, we will grow in Christ, is given to help Christian increase their faith to God.
The scriptures guide us by advocating for reconciliation through informing those we are at war with the goodness of God, and how He is still doing great things to them. This will divert us from a judgemental way of resolving it and hence, facilitate a peaceful and fruitful reconciliation process. Christians should not focus on the faults of others, but should rather encourage them to confess and turn to Christ. A Biblical example is the case of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, whereby instead of focusing on her sinfulness, Jesus preached to her about eternal life and salvation. Another example is through Paul’s teachings to the early Christians, where he advised them to do everything in Christ. When correcting the early Christians, Paul also used Jesus as a reference, as well as reminded their worth to Christ.
From the above mentioned and other Biblical examples, Christians should learn that when correcting others, they should always imitate Christ as well as obey the law of God. In addition, the gospel should be deeply woven in people’s hearts so that they did everything as per the gospel. Furthermore, one should pray for God’s guidance to be able to forgive. This is also crucial as it helps us not to focus on the faults, but instead remember that, through Christ, we have been forgiven and should, therefore, forgive. For example, when mediating a case, we should help both parties to identify their mistakes and make them aware of how Christ has forgiven us all our sins.
Take One or Two Others Along
When private conflict resolution fails, God calls us to seek external help from people we trust. Jesus in Matthew 18: 16 advises that if those we are at conflict with do not listen to us, we should call one or two others as witnesses, and if they still do not listen, we should involve the church. These external witnesses can be spiritually mature friends, church leaders, or the preachers. These mediators listen to both parties and help them to come up with the best solutions for their problems.
Mediators should not force those in conflict to accept a solution that they are not comfortable with, but instead should help them to come up with solutions that are acceptable by both parties. These mediators should use a gospel-oriented conflict approach so as to ensure that the peacemaking process is successful and gives long term solutions. However, if mediation fails, arbitration can be used where a binding decision is made by third parties on behalf of the warring parties. Arbitration should also follow Biblical teachings so as to ensure that both parties are in peace with each other.
A mediator should respect the role of the church, as well as be guided by Christ in helping those in conflict to deal with the root causes of their conflict. In addition, he must not favour one party and must always ensure that he wins the trust of both parties. Moreover, in mediation, both parties should be encouraged to trust in God and obey the gospel and its peacemaking principles. Both parties should, therefore, accept their faults and confess so as to gain their opponent’s forgiveness, as well as God’s forgiveness. It is, therefore, essential that a mediator was a trustworthy person, who will help disputing parties in coming together to identify and resolve their issues. The mediation process should be fair and void of any biasness and favouritism. He should be able to bring the conflicting parties closer to God.
Go and Be Reconciled
Forgive as God Forgave You
Apparently, nothing in the world affects our relationships so adversely as having an unforgiving spirit. Holding grudges against others always dominates our lives in a manner that we may not easily realize. Having an unforgiving heart affects our disposition, the physical health, as well as our attitude towards those who have wronged us. This can be in a number of ways such as refusing to smile or talk to them, or maintaining coolness in our voices. In addition it could be in more adverse ways, for instance malicious gossip and anger. Evidently, this always exists extinguishing the intimacy and the warmth we seek to enjoy with those living around us.
The Holy Bible states that we should let go all our anger, slander, wrath and clamour. In addition, we should let go all the malice and bitterness to be people with kind hearts and forgiving spirits to be able to forgive others, just as the Lord in Christ forgave us. Besides, getting rid of the destructive chain that separates us from others brings us freedom to get along with others. There are a number of questions that we need to ask ourselves in trying to be reconciled. For instance, is it so hard to forgive and how can we do it? The answer to these is exceedingly easy, as we need to forgive others as God forgave us. By learning such elements in the forgiveness by God, we could be in a position to forgive others. The act of foorgiveness should always come with our understanding of others and knowing that no one is perfect.
Look Also to the Interests of Others
Clearly, we should learn not only to consider our interests, but to also take into consideration the interests of others. God charges everyone who looks to their own interests, that is, to provide for the best interests of their families. People are encouraged to have an attitude that is similar to that of Christ. As part of our daily responsibilities, we contact a lot of people ranging from our colleagues at work to companies where we are showing interest or expressing care to those who might be in need of our assistance. It is apparent that taking the interests of others into consideration is not an unrealistic goal. It is remarkably natural to look into the interests of oneself. This is if they are a positive attitude that leads us to take care of the future plans. Taking into consideration the interests of others is a call for the believers to shun from being self-centred.
This is so as they do not fail to attend to others in need when they are actually in a position to do so. Evidently, it is easy to say we are concerned about something and quite a different thing to demonstrate this care. It is recommended that we lived according to the teachings of the Holy Bible. When dealing with people we differ in anger, deceit and attitudes, it is in order to give up our rights and give into the opinion of others. Evidently, looking to the interests of others brings joy, peace, goodness, gentleness and self-control in our lives. Not being ambitious and looking to the interests of one another is a trait that will bring peace to the victim’s family if it is used to help to resolve the issue at hand.
Overcome Evil with Good
As believers, we need to be reconciled to one another with Christ. Peace-making does not come as easily as we would want it to. It has been observed that though it is extremely easy to make peace with some people, it is exceedingly difficult with others, as they are stubborn and defensive. In addition, they resist the efforts being used to bring reconciliation. At times, these people become extremely antagonistic, as they are focussed on looking for ways to frustrate and mistreat others. Naturally, our reaction will be to strike back to such people by, maybe, stopping acting in a good way towards them. Nevertheless, Christ calls us to take a completely different path in dealing with such people.
The Holy book says that we should love our enemies and always do something good to them, as well as those who hate us. Moreover, we should bless those who curse us and pray for those who mistreat us. This is so as our rewards can be great and we will become the sons of the Most High, as he is kind to the wicked and the ungrateful. We should be merciful to others just as the Lord is merciful to us. Instead of reacting in a spiteful manner towards those who mistreat us, we should try to do something good to them for instance by helping them meet their needs. This includes going to them and showing them their faults. At other times, it may call for patience and encouragement. Evidently, showing love to an enemy helps us not to be defeated by anger and bitterness. Moreover, showing love to our opponents may be used by God to bring such people to repentance.
There are many fundamental questions that have been asked by the author in the Peacemakers Workbook. Right from the first part of the workbook, the author asks readers to think on the ways in which they can please and honour God in the situations (conflicts), they are in. Whenever Christians are faced with conflicts, it is crucial for them to understand that the conflict is a chance given by God to glorify Him. This can clearly be seen on 1 Corinthians 10: 13 “so whether you drink or eat whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” On page 41 of the workbook, the author asks the reader to state the type of response to conflict, which he or she has been using to resolve the dispute that they have been facing. To answer this question, the reader ought to be guided by the slippery slope diagram on page 22 of this book. According to the slope diagram, there are three main basic ways in which people respond to various conflicts. These include escape responses, peace-making responses and attack responses.
In escape responses, people tend to use responses, if they are interested in avoiding conflicts, rather than resolving them. For instance, in the church environment, Christians always believe that they should agree on everything that is said by the church leaders, due to the fear that conflicts will inevitably damage their relationships. Attack responses are those responses, which are used by people who are enormously interested in winning conflicts, rather than preserving their relationships. This type of conflict resolution is mostly employed by people viewing conflict as a chance or contest to assert control or rights over others, thus taking advantage of the situation at hand. In solving the conflict at hand, I would opt for peacemaking responses. These are responses that are commanded by God as well as allowed by the gospel. These are directed toward finding mutually agreeable solutions of the conflict. By employing this response technique, my relationship with my brother and parents has vastly improved. On the same page, another fundamental question on how one can grow to be like Christ through this conflict has been posed to the reader. To answer this question, it is crucial to remember what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. He gave up His own life to save mankind from their sins since the time of creation. Based on this, our blinding self-absorption should be replaced with liberating desires in drawing attention to the power and goodness of God.
As indicated on Corinthians 3:1-2, we should raise our hearts on things above and not on the earthly things. This is due to the fact that we have been raised with Christ. Generally, most of the conflicts offer an opportunity for us to be like Christ. On page 75 of this book, a question is posed to the reader on how he or she can show Jesus’ work by taking responsibility for their contribution toward the conflict.
According to Mathew 7:5, the Bible urges all hypocrites to first solve their problems, prior to solving other peoples’ problems. Based on this, it is crucial for all Christians to acknowledge the fact that they have contributed to the conflict, which they are in. This way it becomes extremely easy to establish a permanent solution to the problem, as compared to when one is in denial of having contributed to the conflict at hand.
After exhaustively reading this book, I have realised that it is easy to solve any given conflict by following the guidelines stipulated in the Holy Bible. I do acknowledge the fact that I have equally contributed to all problems that am going through. As earlier indicated, I lived a reckless life, which did cost me freedom and education. Further, my parents had to enormously spend on me through the hefty fines, which they paid to the authorities in order to secure my release from police cells among other notable places. By misusing family resources, I denied my brothers and sisters a decent living, as the resources wasted could have been used to improve on their standards of living. By reading this book, I have understood that it is inappropriate for one to justify himself upon opposition or mistreatment.
Focusing on God is the only key to resolving conflicts constructively. Based on the above reasoning, I have decided to meet with my brother, Alex, and my father, Paul, in order to find a permanent solution to the conflict that we are facing. By employing peacemaking responses as indicated on the slippery slope of conflict, I will employ three notable ways of resolving conflicts. These are reconciliation, negotiation and mediation. If an offense is very serious to be overlooked or has damaged the relationship between the concerned parties, there is the need to resolve relational or personal issues through loving correction, confession, as well as forgiveness. According to Proverbs 28: 13, it is healthy to reconcile with your brother who has something against you. In order to reconcile with my brother, Alex, for all the wrongs I had committed to our family when I was not saved, I will educate him on the need to forgive one another as taught in the Bible.
To achieve this, I will humble myself just like Jesus Christ and accept the wrongs I have done. Further, I have to make my brother understand the need of living in a harmonious family, which adheres to Biblical teachings. To solve problems resulting from material issues, such as property, money or any other right, the Bible urges Christians to negotiate with one another. Negotiation should be carried out through cooperative bargaining process. This way, parties in conflict seek to reach a settlement, which satisfies the legitimate needs of every side. According to Philippians 2:4, one should look at the interest of others, and not his or her alone. If the above two methods fail to achieve the expected results, I will engage my brother into a mediation process. If two or more people fail to reach a consensus in private, it is crucial for them to request for one or more objective people to assist them in exploring all possible solutions.
The objective people can be the church leader or any other respected member of the church community. It is crucial for my brother, Alex, to understand the fact that most of the problems that are associated with attack or escape responses to conflicts, should be prevented by learning on how to look, as well as respond to all type of conflicts in Biblical ways. Further, Alex should be aware of the reasons why conflicts occur, as well as how they should be dealt with. Generally, the more we obey and understand Gods’ teaching on conflict resolution, the more effective one becomes in resolving disputes with other people. By understanding this, my brother, Alex, will be able to forgive me for all wrongs I have done, thus we will become a peaceful family.
From the above study, one can clearly see the need to adhere to Biblical teachings in order to effectively solve a conflict. People should not deny their contributions to the conflict at hand, if an amicable solution is to be attained. For my case, I hope that my brother, Alex, will see the need of following Gods’ teachings in conflict resolution. This way, he will be able to encourage my father to pay for my education, thus enabling me to positively contribute to the society.