Arguably the most important element in resolving conflict is to keep communicating. Communication with oneself, with God, with others about one’s beliefs, coupled with a desire to seek peace and a mutually acceptable outcome, is the noble goal (Rom. 12:8).
Inspirational author Shannon Adler describes the anatomy of conflict: “If there is no communication, then there is no respect. If there is no respect, then there is no caring. If there is no caring, then there is no understanding. If there is no understanding, then there is no compassion. If there is no compassion, then there is no empathy. If there is no empathy, then there is no forgiveness. If there is no forgiveness, then there is no kindness. If there is no kindness, then there is no honesty. If there is no honesty, then there is no love. If there is no love, then God doesn’t reside there. If God doesn’t reside there, then there is no peace. If there is no peace, then there is no happiness. If there is no happiness—then there is conflict, because there is no communication!”
Whatever the conflict, having clearly defined commitments will provide a solid platform from which to operate.
Whatever the conflict, having clearly defined commitments will provide a solid platform from which to operate. Personal conflict commitment will cause us to keep our eyes on the big picture and bind us to godly principles. It has been said that commitment means staying loyal to what we said we were going to do long after the mood has left us.
Make your own set of commitments to keep yourself on track in the midst of a conflict. Here are 10 such commitments to start with.
Reality Check: I embrace the reality that believers will have conflicts, and there will be injustices. My response will be to seek truth and reconciliation (2 Tim. 3:12).
Exemplary Models: I accept my models for reconciliation to be such persons as Abigail (1 Sam. 25:23-35), Daniel (Eze. 14:14), Joseph (Gen. 50:20); and Jesus (1 Peter 2:23, 24).
Personal Examination:I humbly remember my personal sins/shortcomings, even though the wrongs/faults of others may be obvious (2 Cor. 13:5).
Deliberate Acceptance: I submit to suffering and injustice for righteousness’ sake as my highest calling and greatest privilege (Matt. 5:11, 12).
Modus Operandi: When in conflict I will first, speak; second, speak truth; third, speak truth with love (Eph. 4:15, 16).
Persistent Mission: I will remain loyal to God, His people, and His church as my highest goal and lifelong mission (John 8:31, 32).
Daily Discipline: I will study, commune with God, and serve His church as effective tools in response to offenses (Heb. 10:25).
Unearthly Forgiveness: I fully forgive any offending party regardless of whether or not they are worthy, have good motives, or have repented adequately (Matt. 18:21, 22).
Overarching Sovereignty: I believe God is providentially in charge of all conflicts, whether the outcome is desirable or not (Matt. 6:10).
Final Outcome: In the aftermath of conflict, I will nurture a clean heart, pure speech, and gracious actions, and seek to learn from and be better because of it (Ps. 51:10-13).
May our commitment to love and resolve conflict be unstoppable.
Delbert W. Baker is vice chancellor of the Adventist University of Africa, near Nairobi, Kenya.