Do you love being criticized? No? Me neither. It’s so hard to remain patient with others when we disagree or feel attacked. I need an action plan because conflict is bound to come and I want to be prepared. My first instinct when someone criticizes me is often to defend myself — the I’m right, you’re wrong syndrome. But that mentality rarely leads to peace or resolution. So how does God want us to deal with conflict? Here’s my action plan…
1.Pray for wisdom
God’s desire for His church is that we’re one. (John 17:11) That doesn’t mean we won’t disagree, but that when we do, we commit to disagree in love for the pursuit of God’s kingdom. James 3:17 says God’s wisdom is “…first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” If God is navigating the problem through our prayer, we will work through our problem with peace and mercy listening to each others reasons and then will end with good fruit–stronger than before. I want that!!
2.Pursue Truth about the person
As Christ followers we can’t be about being right, we have to be about seeking truth. So some questions I plan to ask myself at the onset of disagreements are: Does this person have my best interest at heart? If so, I can take what they say knowing they are speaking in love. If not, I can let it roll off and not engage. What do I know about the person that would make them have a different opinion than me? This is a biggie because it helps us view her in grace-filled way honoring that person’s past and hurts.
3. Pursue humility in your actions
If I have to go through an uncomfortable situation, I might as well learn something from it. Recently in a conflict I had to ask myself, is there anything I can do differently next time? The answer was yes. I needed to be more careful with my words.
One strategy I will implement in future relational problems to show loving patience will be to wait 24 hours to respond. In the age of quick responses, we need to be people who carefully consider our words and be patient in our responses by waiting for Godly wisdom before we open our mouths. That is hard for me. I’m a words person. I want to fire off quickly. So humility is going to be my bestie.
Will this plan help me persuade someone I’m right? Maybe not. But they will enable me to leave a disagreement knowing I surrendered it to God and loved my neighbor in patience. We can’t control the outcome, but we can control our part in the process.
What conflict have you endured lately? How could you have worked through the disagreement in a more God honoring way? What steps would you add to your action plan?
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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.
Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on Crosswalk