Brave Conversations


I do not know you or your story, but I am very certain that eventually, if not currently you will
experience some form of conflict with someone in your life. It might be a difficult boss, neighbor without boundaries, addicted family member or stubborn teenage child. Most of us hate conflict, but it is an opportunity to bring God glory. God’s Word, the Bible, gives us a great deal of relational wisdom when it comes to resolving conflict. How do we turn the conflict we hate into an opportunity for growth? How do we restore Shalom (peace) in our relationships?

First, TAKE THE INITIATIVE. Jesus tells us in the sermon on the mount that when we are at worship and remember that our brother has something against us, we should first go be reconciled (Matthew 5:23, 24). Jesus outlines a strategy where we approach the person one on one, then if necessary, take another person or two with us and if that does not work then take it to the church, specifically church leadership, for help (Matthew 18:15-17). Can I just be honest and say I do not love this aspect of my job. But this method often works.

Second, BECOME AS UNOFFENDABLE AS POSSIBLE. Over the years as I listen to the stories of
conflict, I am amazed at how something that appears small can lead to such big blow ups. Usually, I find a pattern under the trigger event which helps explain the level of anger, but not always. King Solomon writes “it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11b). Many times we can and should just let something go.

Third, LISTEN. Really listen. Restate what you hear them say. Fill in feeling words such as “so when I did this you felt disrespected?” Allow them to truly feel heard. Offering a person you are at odds with a listening ear is a powerful gift. The Bible tells us to be “quick to listen and slow to speak” (James 1:19). As we hear them then we can truly own our piece of this conflict. Maybe we are responsible for only 10 percent of the blame for this conflict. But if we will give the gift of “going first” and owning that 10% then your opponent may step up and own at least part of their piece of the mess.

Fourth, FORGIVE. Whether they apologize or not, for you to be free, you need to forgive them. This does not mean you excuse their behavior or protect them from the consequences of their actions. But it means you give up your perceived right for revenge. Quit telling your story of hurt to anyone who will listen. Do the deep work of sacrificially forgiving the person. This is what Jesus does for us on the cross. If we are His followers, we too must forgive; it is at the heart of our faith (Ephesians 4:32).

Fifth, LOVE THEM ANYWAY. People are broken, messy and often selfish. Our calling is to love people in the middle of their mess. This is how God loves us and, as his children, we are called to love even our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Yes, this challenge is incredibly difficult, but it is our beautiful obedience.

As you think about the conflict in your life is there a brave conversation that you need to have with someone this week?

Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church