3 spiritually sound ways to handle conflict with someone who has wronged you
ever have an issue with someone and wondered how you should go about addressing them? or, have you ever known what to say to the person you were at odds with but didn't want to say it to their face for whatever reason? if you're like me, you might sometimes go "seek counsel" from a mutual friend. that mutual friend is usually someone that will either agree or disagree with you and give you perspective on the situation before you go and address the person at hand. although this may seem like the "right" way to go about handling conflict, i've come to find that it may not be the most effective. my pastor has been diving into this series, effectively entitled "why the church?" and he really taught on something a couple of weeks ago that resonated with me. he spoke of handling conflict with other people and of course used scripture to support what he was saying. i was so impacted by it that i thought it would be a great idea to share it with the world, as i'm sure i'm not the only one who sometimes struggles with conflict resolution.
matthew 18:15-17 states the following:
"if your brother wrongs you, go and show him his fault, between you and him privately. if he listens to you, you have one back your brother. but if he does not listen, take along with you one or two others, so that every word may be confirmed and upheld by the testimony of two or three witnesses. if he pays no attention to them (refusing to listen and obey), tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector."
with that being said, what i've done in this blog is break this down into three effective ways to handle conflict with someone who's wronged you alongside specific modern examples and commentary make the content more "digestible", if you will. enjoy.
3). go directly to that person you feel has wronged you, privately.
this is the first step. not the second, third, or fourth step; you need to do this first. so often, we find ourselves going to our best friend, mentor, family member, etc. regarding a situation that happened with someone that we know. those people will sometimes actually give good advice. and sometimes, the advice is not so good. in either case, speaking to everyone about an issue you have with someone before you actually speak to that person is out of order (literally). and, take note of the word "private". so, that doesn't mean you can tag them on facebook directly or mention them on twitter; that's not private. what that does is actually create more conflict because now they may feel the need to retaliate and the cycle just goes back and forth. this isn't an effective way to handle conflicting situations. and if you don't feel the need to go to the person directly because "it's not that deep", maybe you should remember it's not that "deep" and refrain from talking to everyone else about the alleged issue. furthermore, try to keep yourself from adopting the "i just won't deal with that person anymore" approach because that also isn't healthy nor is it conducive to communal living and an overall happier life because if you keep writing people off on your "don't deal with them" list, who's gonna be left to deal with you?
2). take with you one or two other people with you if the person who you feel has wronged you does not understand your perspective (or refuses to listen).
now, this one is a slippery slope for some of us. this doesn't mean you go and get your friends who basically have the same perspective as you nor does it mean you go and find your "down to ride for a homicide" friend who's knucking if you bucking (or bobbing when you're weaving) or whatever else the young folks say today. this is the opportunity for you to enlist the help of a responsible person. in my mind, it helps if the person knows both people involved but isn't more partial to one friend over the other. you want to chose someone (or maybe two people) who are somewhat wise and capable of offering sound advice to the situation. remember, the goal should always be to be someone who's slow to take offense...and quick to reconcile. so with that mindset, you've got to choose people who you feel will help you alleviate the problem, not folks who are going to help you gang up on the person that wronged you, that's not an effective way of handling conflict and it could essentially make matters worse.
1). if the person still seems not to "get it", then take it to the church.
no, this does not mean that you need to go to the front of the altar before the congregation and let everyone know that there will be a public stoning after service. this also doesn't mean that you need to put an ad in the church bulletin asking everyone for advice on how to handle the situation. instead, you should find one of the ministry leaders (clergy members) at your church and have them also try and help you reconcile your issue. many of us try to go straight to our pastor and/or first lady, but sometimes the issue can be resolved prior to it getting to them; we have to realize that the anointing (and/or the ability to effectively resolve conflict) does not exist only within the realm of being a pastor or first lady. this is why it's important for us to trust the individuals that are in leadership. now if you aren't a member of a church, maybe you should consider going to a local church near you; or you could even ask some of your friends what church they go to and make a decision to reach out to them regarding your concerns. if and only if after all of this, the person still chooses not to listen and/or reconcile, now you can hit them with the "i'm not dealing with you." if you notice, the scripture even says at this point, you'd basically treat them like you would a pagan (someone who's ungodly) or a tax collector (which no one is ever really happy to see, if we are being honest).