Help Me Understand: Conflict Resolution

  • Help Me Understand: Conflict Resolution
Help Me Understand: Conflict Resolution

If I had to liken my confrontation style to an animal, I guess I'd say I'm a turtle. Whenever emotions are heightened I retreat into the safety of my shell and wait until the storm passes.

My spouse, on the other hand, is more like a territorial lion. Conflict is a part of life and my spouse fights for what is right.

Sometimes I'm accused of being a doormat, always giving in. But I would rather have a peaceful life and do what my spouse wants than start fights and end up divorced. Also it feels awful when people are mad at me, I feel nervous and jumpy. Why would I risk making people angry by speaking my mind if I just feel horrible afterward? No, I'll just keep it to myself.

I've always looked at conflict as a "fight or flight" choice‚ when we disagree with each other we should stuff it down because our goal should be to live in peace with each other. I try to live without conflict even if it means I don't get my way. That's what the Bible says about fighting, right?


Conflict is a fact of life. People have different motives, methods, perspectives, and desires. Some of these are sinful some are not. In fact trying to live a godly life in a sinful world will create conflict. Conflict per se isn't necessarily bad. But we have a problem when conflict stems from, is expressed with, or remains unresolved, because of sinful motives, attitudes, or actions.


God's Word addresses conflict with real practical direction aimed at our motives, attitudes, and actions.

  • “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19 cf.12:18 NIV).
  • “...then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus...” (Philippians 2:2-5).
  • “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight” (James 4:1, 2a).
  • “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
  • “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).
  • “...Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become
    angry...” (James 1:19).
  • “Do not repay anyone evil for evil” (Romans 12:17).

The Solution

  1. Check your motives. Examine your heart for evidence of manipulation, mistrust, or feelings of resentment or entitlement. These breed conflict (James 4:1-3). Ask God’s forgiveness if these are present. Ask yourself why the conflict issue is so important to you. Be sure you are wanting what God wants (Philippians 2:2-8).
  2. Exercise humility by focusing on hearing and understanding the other person and her perspective. Do not minimize her needs or put down anything about her.
  3. Choose your words carefully. Don’t escalate the conflict by yelling or using inflammatory or exaggerated statements such as “always” and “never.” Attack the problem not the person. Don’t clam up refusing to talk.
  4. View yourselves as a team striving for resolution together rather than as opponents at odds. Work for a win/win rather than win/lose. Forgive; do not hold the conflict against the other person. Never seek revenge.
  5. If emotions are running too high, set a later time to discuss and brainstorm solutions and options for resolving the conflict.