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The Goals of Managing Conflict


When we set out to resolve conflict, we should have a clear sense of the goals of such an endeavor. Sure, achieving peace is a treasured destination, but there are more reasons to consider—reasons that can help our environment, our ministry, and even our church grow more healthy.


1. Better understanding

Many issues possess a diverse slate of angles, perceptions, and possible outcomes. When two people experience conflict, they can often learn from each other since they may be seeing the issue from very different vantage points. In general, a desire to learn is an excellent posture when dealing with conflict. Even if compromise can’t be achieved because one path precludes the other, there can still be much to learn from a different perspective.


2. Positive change

Misunderstanding is a common culprit in conflict. When the issue is confronted, we may discover ways to help the other individual better understand the situation and even help bring a shared resolution. In 2 Samuel 2:26-28, Joab is grateful that Abner spoke up or their conflict could have destroyed many:

Then Abner called to Joab and said, “Shall the sword devour forever? Do you not know that it will be bitter in the latter end? How long will it be then until you tell the people to return from pursuing their brethren?”

And Joab said, “As God lives, unless you had spoken, surely then by morning all the people would have given up pursuing their brethren.” So Joab blew a trumpet; and all the people stood still and did not pursue Israel anymore, nor did they fight anymore.”

When we set out to resolve conflict, we should look for the ways we can go forward together. Ending the matter is certainly a valuable step, but there can be even more positive steps to discover.


3. Growing relationship

Those who successfully resolve conflict will tell you of relationships that grew stronger because of their efforts. Since people typically live with multiple conflicts that remain unresolved, they can feel a sense of achievement when they are able to solve one such battle. Jesus mentions such feelings of victory in Matthew 18:15 by saying that “you have gained your brother.”

Relationships that are strong and continue to grow aren’t those that somehow manage to sidestep conflict. Instead, it’s through resolving conflict that friendships, and even marriages grow stronger.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV®. COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984 BY INTERNATIONAL BIBLE SOCIETY®.

“Managing Conflict” is published by the National Women’s Department at www.women.ag.org. ©2020. Permission to reproduce is limited to personal use or within a teaching setting. All other forms of use are prohibited.