Biblical Conflict Management: 10 Principles

Given the number of variables two people bring to the table it is easy to see why conflict happens.  Not all conflict is bad as it can bring out healthy conclusion.  Ultimately, all conflict can be used to glorify God, serve others, and help us become more like Christ.  I consulted with Randy Kamer (my father), an experienced supervisor well acquainted with conflict management strategy inside the church and inside the management and factories.  He introduced me many of the concepts of conflict management at a very young age.
1.    Diffuse tension.
a.     Proverbs 30:33 “Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.”
b.    Ken Sande writes that, “Peacemaking is not an optional activity for a believer” (2004, p. 56).  If we are always looking at creating unity and peace among believers there may be times when the quarrel is sudden and heated.  There will not be any resolution to the conflict until all parties involved have cooled down.
c.      “This is wise with any issue of conflict and should probably be moved to #1 in your listing. Caution should be used when and how diffusing, because there is a very thin line between diffuse and ignite” (Randy Kamer).
2.    Remain calm regardless of the situation.  Understand that how you answer can create answers or create more conflict.
a.     James 1:19 “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”
b.    Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
c.      We must have peace in ourselves or else we prone to fits of rage.  Before it can be seen in the situation we must have peace within our own soul.
d.    Some people argue for the sake of arguing.  Those with that attitude will pick any word of phrase apart, fill it with meaning, and start another argument.  It is important to consider how each word we speak can speak life into the resolution or pour more fire into the conflict.
e.      “Very often, conflict can be used good, personal growth, and even increased productivity” (Randy Kamer).
3.    Listen to the opposing side or sides if a mediator (walk in their shoes).
a.     Proverbs. 18:13 “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”
b.     Having the ability to listen to the other side is a skill and an art.  It is a skill to listen and pick up those things that are important to promoting resolution.  It is an art as to listen in a way that displays you actually do care.
c.      “You cannot rightly advise, diffuse and guide if you do not listen to both sides. And sometimes, the conflictor and conflictee must be separated before you may clearly hear the complete sides freely” (Randy Kamer)
4.    Seek understanding as to why conflict is happening (my issue vs. your issue).
a.     Proverbs 3:30 “Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.”
b.    Many times couples argue and forget what they are arguing about.  Sande writes, “In many cases, however, if you look at a particular issue from a biblical perspective, you will realize that it is simply not worth fighting over” (2004, p. 82).
c.      “There is always a reason for conflict, be it lack of understanding, the thought of inability to perform, against belief, etc. It is the responsibility of the conflictor, manager, mediator to find the underlying reason because rarely will the conflictee spell it out” (Randy Kamer)
5.    If possible, take time to respond as to be concise and complete.
a.     Proverbs 17:27 “He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.”
b.    If the conflict is taking place over e-mail and text, this is much simpler to do (and even better since we can become more aggressive behind a protective screen). 
c.      “You must understand the situation from both sides including, but not limited to the personality of the conflictor and the conflictee, understanding both sides but at the same time reasoning with good clear direction for resolution” (Randy Kamer).
6.    Seek to overcome any language barriers.
a.     Proverbs 26:4-5 “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.  Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.”
b.    At some point, people may start talking past each other.  They may use the same terms but use different definitions.  In talking things through you have to understand the words each other is going to use.
c.      “Language is not always a issue of tongue, but educational, knowledge, understanding, illiterate, fear, fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, etc” (Randy Kamer).
7.    If you feel yourself heated do what is necessary to calm down and recollect.
a.     Romans 12:17 “Recompense to no man evil for evil.”
b.    Again, if you are at your computer or texting it is easier to take a few minutes to regain your composer.  If at all possible, you may seek to be excused to think and to calm down.  If not, then it would be important to learn some quick breathing techniques or other ways to reflect anger positively during a time of unmanageable anger.
c.      “You cannot think and react smartly and wisely while angered” (Randy Kamer).
8.    Understand your own position.
a.     Ecclesiastes 10:4 “If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place, for yielding pacifieth great offences.”
b.    Simply because conflict has arisen does not mean that what your fighting for is not important.  It is not time to roll over and concede.  But the conflict will only move forward if you know what you are arguing about on both sides.  Only then will a answer toward both sides be complete.
c.      “You must understand your own position, the conflictor’s position and the conflictee’s position. Then determine what is right, agreeable, compromising or even an un-obtainable solution always remembering to make this and growing productive result in the end for all parties involved.” (Randy Kamer)
9.    Seek to make much of Jesus even in Conflict.
a.     1 Corinthians 10:31Whether therefore ye eat, or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
b.    Our whole purpose is to glorify God and lead others to a relationship with him.  It’s hard to that in conflict but it is possible.  Sande writes that, “The best way to glorify God in the midst of conflict is to depend on and draw attention to his grace” (2004, p. 31). 
c.      You can always see in a person, Jesus, Bible and personal teaching, up bringing, and church studies into any conflict that you mediate without ever mentioning Jesus, the Bible or the church just in the calmness and the reactions that you make when dealing with conflict. If Jesus lives in you, then he will stick out somewhere, just let them see it in your actions and reactions” (Randy Kamer).
References

Sande, K. (2004). The Peace Maker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict.   (3rd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.