North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose by Matt Dobson

Brian’s blind date with Olivia was bad from the start. They just couldn’t get along; they didn’t like each other. Fortunately, Brian had asked his friend to call him so he’d have an excuse to leave if the date wasn’t going well. When his friend called, Brian pretended to be in shock, “I have to leave,” Brian said to Olivia, “My uncle just died.” “Thank God,” Olivia replied. “If yours hadn’t mine would’ve had to.” As long as there are two people living on earth, there will be conflict in time, to some degree. Conflict is normal and it’s natural. Dealing with conflict is a natural part of human existence. Conflict can be positive if it leads to correction and proper adjustments. But when handled in the wrong spirit it can lead to some serious consequences. People can get hurt. More than that, people have been killed over things that were not talked through with reason. Sometimes people often share the same things, they do things together, but still feel they’re strangers. They communicate ideas and facts, but rarely share their personal feelings about each other. Theway you communicate can influence the amount of conflict you have to process.

Just because it happens, conflict should not always be looked upon as the death to a relationship. Conflict is often the first step toward going separate ways between individuals and groups of people. But let’s consider these things for a moment. The Bible has the correct answer for everything. Romans 12:18 says, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” And again it tells us in Hebrews 12:14, “Work at living in peace with everyone and work at living a holy life…” God encourages reconciliation and He is the supreme authority on the subject. It was His love for man-kind that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins and become our Savior; thus, making a way for us to be reconciled to Him. “Since our friendship with God was restored (reconciled) by the death of His Son…we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son” (Rom. 5:10). The Bible goes as far as to say we all have the gift of reconciliation. “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18).

Resolving conflict can be an effective process that leads to a much stronger relationship between two people than there was originally. The way a person deals with conflict will determine if irreparable damage is done. Failure to deal with conflictconstructively is the most powerful force in “putting lights out” on a relationship, particularly marriage. Let me explain, my positive ideas and thoughts on conflict resolution have been learned through trial and error, mainly error. I haven’t always dealt with it in an effective way. However, having experienced conflict and reflecting back on what I did right and what I did wrong; I have a much clearer perspective on how to handle it.

Here are a few steps in the process of resolving conflict in a positive way. Step 1: Show Mutual Respect. Aside from the issue itself, the attitude of one or both people (or groups) is often at the heart of the conflict. Having mutual respect shows that you seek to understand the other person’s point of view.    Step 2: Discover The Real Issue. Often times it’s not the minor disagreements that are the issue at hand. Many times there’s one single root cause of the conflict. And once the real issue is discovered and identified it becomes easier to resolve the surface disagreements. In marriage for instance, when the issue has been identified—such as who controls, who resents control, and feels a lack of respect, the couple can discuss alternative ways to behave, and reach a new agreement. New agreements must be forged in the marriage relationship. If you don’t, there will be continuous conflict and nobody wants to live in that. Step 3: Seek-Out Areas of Agreement. Don’t be so narrow-minded and always think your way is best. In a conflict situation, the most comfortable way in your mind is to suggest the other person should just change their way of thinking. This would solve it right? Not always. By agreeing to cooperate rather than bicker, people set the stage for discovering what they can each do to resolve the conflict. The conflict and its resolution becomes a shared responsibility, rather than one-sided. Step 4: Mutually Participate in Deciding The Resolution. It’s important to allow the other person the option of modifying or making a counter suggestion on the resolution. Conflict can and will most likely continue if one person makes the decision with no regard to the other person (or group’s) input. When this step is practiced, responsibility and power are shared equally and cooperation replaces resistance.

Let’s also not forget the words of Ephesians 4:26, “If you’re angry, don’t let it become sin. Get over your anger before the day is finished” (NLV). In other words, deal with the issue that causes conflict and anger in a timely manner. Letting conflict carry on and/or be suppressed, creates a toxic poison inside your heart and mind. This can give way to bitterness that can erode away not only your relationships, but your physical health too. Open dialogue is vital to healthy relationships, particularly marriage. Conflict is inevitable between two people or groups of people. To avoid the effort and pain of conflict resolution is to give up the closeness that is the true substance of effective relationships.

It is important to acknowledge conflict will happen, and to be prepared to deal with it when it does.  You may not welcome conflict with open arms, but you can develop a confidence inyour ability to manage it and grow as a person or as a couple in the process. Find a church that teaches reconciliation principles, attend faithfully to learn as much as you can, and follow God in all your ways.

This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Oct 14 2012. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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