posted on Thursday, May 8, 2014
Conflict encompasses my thoughts today. Each athletic contest engaged in is a study in conflict. The teams have differing goals and seek to frustrate the efforts of the other. In work, each transaction or duty has some level of conflict. At home, our relationships inevitably place us in conflict with those we love. At some point in every day we experience conflict.
Some shrink from conflict and avoid it at all costs. Others seek out conflict and seem to be unhappy unless they are in its midst. Most of us are somewhere in the middle, willing to engage when needed and withdraw where the end result will not be beneficial. Personally, I think I embrace all three approaches. How do you handle conflict?
Left unchecked, or hastily approached, conflict can damage our relationships and cause a great amount of inner turmoil. How we deal with that conflict can have a great effect on our quality of life in all its forms. How then do we approach the inevitable conflict that we will face?
First, the way of peace is almost always best. Facing conflict by measuring a response and brokering peace is often unexpected and effective. Acknowledging the point of conflict, validating it, and moving to an alternative that quells anger and solves the problem usually results in a productive resolution. It is akin to a well placed time out called by a coach when the other team is beginning to dominate a game. A solid coach will calm the players, remind them of the game plan, make an adjustment, and instill the confidence to stop the momentum gained by the other team. The same practice can be employed in a work conflict and in a conflict at home.
However, there are times that lines must be drawn and boundaries defended. In those instances, a strong, measured stand is warranted. This stand is not one that creates additional conflict, but one that stands firm and stops cold the actions that have created the conflict. Again, a solid coach, as Coach Thomas was prone to do, may stop a lackadaisical practice in the middle and begin an extended conditioning session. The players are then informed that effort in conflict with his goals for the team will not be tolerated and there will be a consequence for continued conflict. This training is effective and strong, but aimed at restoring peace and productivity.
I encourage you to analyze how you handle conflict in your life. The next time it arises, pause and consider your response. Seek the path of peace. It may involve swallowing big and letting wrongs go, and it may involve a metaphorical extended conditioning session. Seek to resolve conflict and clear a path for peace and productivity in your life.
“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:17-18 (NLT)