Tips on Resolving Conflict

Serving as a Peacemaker

How do you help two people who are in the midst of conflict work out their differences? Sometimes leaders need to mediate conflicts that arise in home church. The process below suggests steps that an intermediary could take when meeting with two people who are locked in conflict.

  1. Ask both parties to meet together with you face-to-face.
  2. State your objective to both parties: “The GOAL is for each of us to do our part to bring as much resolution as possible to this conflict, so that we may go on with peace in our hearts toward one another.  We will not be trying to hash out every detail of this conflict at our meeting.”
  3. If they accept your invitation, thank them both in advance for taking part in the reconciliation meeting.
  4. Once the meeting begins, remind everyone that ultimately, God’s reputation and glory are the highest priority.
  5. Explain the format of the meeting up front. Some leaders have found this format is useful:
    1. Pray together.
    2. Give each party the opportunity to state any sins they have committed & ask forgiveness for those sins (“take the log out of your own eye”).
    3. If necessary, the intermediary should be prepared to mediate any clarification needed from the above step.
    4. Give each party the opportunity to offer concise, constructive correction/suggestions to the other parties (“remove the speck from your brother’s eye”).
    5. If necessary, the intermediary should be prepared to mediate any clarification needed from the above step.
    6. Close the meeting with prayer.

Preparing to Participate in a Conflict

If you are currently involved in a conflict, you can do several things before meeting with the person you’re in conflict to prepare yourself for a productive time together. This may seem basic, but in an emotionally charge situation, it’s always good to review your role carefully.

1. The Peacemaker's Pledge 

Adapted from Ken Sande, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Conflict (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 3rd revised edition, 2004)

Peacemaking may require many steps and involve a wide variety of biblical principles.  While this may result in a fairly complicated process in some cases, the essential elements of peacemaking may be summarized in four basic principles drawn directly from scripture.  Since every Christian should be committed to following these principles, it seems appropriate to think of them as “The Peacemaker's Pledge.”

As people reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are called to respond to conflict in a way that is remarkably different from the way the world deals with conflict.  We also believe that conflict provides opportunities to glorify God, serve other people, and grow to be like Christ.  Therefore, in response to God's love and in reliance on his grace, we commit ourselves to respond to conflict according to the following principles.

a. Glorify God

Instead of focusing on our own desires or dwelling on what others may do, we will seek to please and honor God—by depending on his wisdom, power, and love; by faithfully obeying his commands; and by seeking to maintain a loving, merciful, and forgiving attitude (Ps. 37:1-6; Mk. 11:25; Rom. 12:17-21; 1 Cor. 10:31; Jas. 3:17-4:3; 1 Pet. 2:12).

b. Get the Log out of Your Own Eye

Instead of attacking others or dwelling on their wrongs, we will take responsibility for our own contribution to conflicts—confessing our sins, asking God to help us change any attitudes and habits that lead to conflict, and seeking to repair any harm we have caused (Prov. 28:13; Matt. 7:3-5; Luke 19:8).

c. Go and Show Your Brother His Fault

Instead of pretending that conflict doesn't exist or talking about others behind their backs, we will choose to overlook minor offenses or we will talk directly and graciously with those whose offenses seem too serious to overlook.  When a conflict with another Christian cannot be resolved in private, we will ask others in the body of Christ to help us settle the matter in a biblical manner (Prov. 19:11; Matt. 18:15-20; Gal. 6:1-2).

d. Go and Be Reconciled

Instead of accepting premature compromise or allowing relationships to wither, we will actively pursue genuine peace and reconciliation—forgiving others as God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven us, and seeking just and mutually beneficial solutions to our differences (Matt. 5:23-24; 6:12; 7:12; Eph. 4:1-3, 32).

By God's grace, we will apply these principles as a matter of stewardship, realizing that conflict is an assignment, not an accident.  We will remember that success, in God's eyes, is not a matter of specific results but of faithful, dependent obedience. And we will pray that our service as peacemakers brings honor to God and leads others to know his infinite love.

2. A Peacemaker's Checklist

Whenever you are involved in a conflict, you may apply the four basic principles of peacemaking by asking yourself these questions:

a. Glorify God
How can I please and honor the Lord in this situation?

 

b. Get the log out of your eye
How have I contributed to this conflict and what do I need to do?

 

c. Go and show your brother his fault
How can I help others to understand how they have contributed to this conflict?

 

d. Go and be reconciled
How can I demonstrate forgiveness and encourage a reasonable solution to this conflict?