More on Conflict (featuring Dr. David)
Ok, so we talked about conflict last week and how it is not something all of us like to engage in.
I wanted to bring in new friend and guest therapist for Putting the Pencil Down, Dr. David Adams for a little more insight into this ‘conflict thing’
Just so you know Dr. David isn’t just a therapist, he is a born again believer and follower of Jesus Christ, also has his MDIV (which means he went to school foreva to learn about the Bible) AND he has his doctorate in Clinical Psychology.
I mean how fun to have him with us today to discuss this thing called conflict!
My first question is: As humans why do we tend to struggle with conflict?
Dr. David: It is important to understand the source of conflict in understanding our struggle with it. James 4:1 states, “What causes quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your own desires?” It seems that when we have a conflict, at least one of the parties involved is likely focused on self. When this occurs, someone is likely to get hurt. When focused on self, we have a hard time focusing on the other person’s needs, values, expectations, and personal worth.
God created us for community, so when community and relationship is threatened (as we perceive it to be in conflict), we have an internal struggle.
Lindsay: Makes sense to me, that is why I don’t love conflict because I don’t want to get hurt and frankly I don’t want anyone else to hurt either. But God is also teaching me that I am not responsible for other people’s feelings (that is hard for me to learn)
Second, is there such a thing as “healthy conflict” and if so, what does it look like?
Dr. David: In responding to this question, I would like to say there are certain behaviors and communication patterns that are healthy in the midst of conflict. So, yes, one can be in conflict and respond with healthy behaviors.
Here are a few thoughts:
1. In conflict, it is important to focus on personal responsibility rather than focusing all your attention on the failures of others.
2. Seek to understand first, then seek to be understood. Too often, our focus is to be “heard” and we miss out on the perspective of the other person. If both parties involved in a conflict would seek to understand first, conflict will likely reduce.
3. The Scripture gives us some of the best advice for conflict. Be “Slow to Speak, Quick to Listen, and Slow to Anger- (James 1:19). When you practice these two behaviors (being slow to speak and quick to listen), it will lead to being slow to anger! (And thus slow to conflict).
4. It is possible to be angry and yet not to sin (Ephesians 4:26). Injustice can cause anger, but even “injustice”, you can respond in a way in which God is glorified.
5. Above all else, forgive! This is the basis for reconciliation. After all, we are forgiven. Colossians 3:13 states, “….bearing with one another, if anyone has a complaint against each other, forgiving each other…” Now, this can be hard, but remember forgiving will lead to more healthy relationships.
Lindsay: David, this is SO good, right before I thought I was going to engage in some conflict last week, I “so happened” to just flip open my Bible app and saw a scripture on humility, I think that was God reminding me that humility will help to ease any conflict.
Third, if we are one of those people who really doesn’t love conflict, what should we do to find a healthier perspective of it?
Dr. David: Conflict is not enjoyable. In fact, if one enjoys conflict, there may be another problem. Often time we try to avoid conflict as a way to protect ourselves from being hurt. Ahh…so if we do not have conflict, we are less likely to get hurt. However, avoiding conflict only leads to greater problems.Realize that being able to resolve conflict is the only path to true intimacy. So my first encouragement for you is to understand the path of conflict leads us to greater intimacy with God and each other. Remember God’s promises! He will strengthen you to handle any situation, even conflict!
Secondly, depend on God in all things, even conflict. This means bathe the situation in prayer. Often times, prayer will change our heart and attitudes in the process as well.
Lindsay: David, I am also SO (yes in all cap) glad that I am not weird for not liking conflict, whew. And I agree as I talked about in my last blog on conflict, what I learned most was that with God I was able to do something I didn’t enjoy and was amazed at how He worked through me in it.
Finally, in your words, how did Jesus handle conflict? What can we learn from Him?
David: Jesus lived in conflict. The religious leaders were constantly watching him, talking about him in negative ways, and attempting to conspire against Him. When Jesus was tempted by Satan, he quoted Scripture. When he was in the Garden of Gethsemane (knowing he was about to be crucified), he isolated himself in order to pray! These are the two best strategies: prayer and bathe yourself in His Word. Also, Jesus was not just a passive person. He did stand up for what is right. You may recall how Jesus flipped over the tables of the individuals who were buying and selling in the Temple for their own profit (Matthew 21). He directly confronted the situation. So, in conflict, one of the best things you can do is to assert yourself in love. However, other times, he taught just to “Turn your cheek” if your rights are violated (Luke 6:29). All in all, I think we can learn that we should be less concerned about our “own rights” which is the source of conflict. However, if the rights of others are violated or God’s truth needs to be made know, we should stand up and assert ourselves in love and respect.
Lindsay: Thank you so much Dr. David.
I hope this provided some needed insight to all of you out there, it sure did me. We will absolutely be having Dr. David back to talk about some other issues us ‘little BELOVED dust people’ tend to have and what Psychology and the Bible (more importantly Jesus) say that it.