Tuesday, July 26, 2016

How to Respond to Conflict (Part 1)

I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.  3 John 1:9
We continue today looking at how to handle conflict.  Yesterday we focused on four ways we shouldn’t respond to conflict.  Today and in the following days we will focus on the right way to respond to conflict. 

For a conflict to occur, whether large or small, impersonal or between groups, it will have the following characteristics:
  • At least two parties have to be involved.
  • Some kind of struggle or threat (real or supposed) must exist.
  • Some interaction or interference must exist.
  • The transaction may be emotional.
When conflict does arise, there are some things we can do to lessen any possible damage and even turn the conflict to a positive in the relationship.  Conflict is not bad; it is merely the status of a relationship. 
I.      Focus On All Involved and Not Just Yourself  (vs 9)
John spoke of a man named Diotrephes who loved to be first.  One of the main causes of continuing conflict in any relationship is selfishness.  Paul clearly states the reason for Diotrephes rejection of their position on the issues but his desire for position in the church.  Such posturing is not uncommon in the church or anywhere people are gathered.  The problem is that this confuses the situation when the conflict is not about the issue but the persons involved.
Stephen Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People gave good advice when he wrote, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.”  Before people will listen to what you have to say they want to be sure they have been heard.  Conflict is not resolved when both sides are only interested in being right.
Paul said it this way in Philippians 2:3-5, “Don't just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.  Your attitude should be the kind that was shown us by Jesus Christ.” (TLB)
Good conflict resolution will improve relationships and benefit both parties.  The strongest relationships are those where conflict has developed a deeper personal understanding and respect for one another.  Paul advises the Philippians to think "we," rather than "I versus you.”  It is also true that working together where there is conflict can bring about a better solution than either individual could offer alone.
It’s important to keep in mind the long-term relationship.  Dissolving a relationship over a single issue is unnecessary foolishness.  In the middle of an argument we are usually preoccupied with thinking about ourselves.  But if we could only take a moment to think about and focus on the other person involved and the priority of putting Jesus first, then the conflict would be resolved. 
Diotrephes’ selfishness precluded any meaningful dialogue and Paul called his hand on it. Because of Jesus we have the ability to think and relate to others in a different way.  That’s because He has given us the ability to focus on others and not self and to demonstrate love and forgiveness.  SO, lesson one from III John on conflict is to focus on the issue and not on yourself.  I think we can do that if we let Jesus guide our thoughts and words.

Scripture to Claim:
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.  Philippians 2:3

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