Most people find conflict to be uncomfortable. In the church, we often take the position that conflict is actually unrighteous (sinful). Unfortunately, conflict seems to be a natural and even expected, part of life. We might be surprised to learn that, in and of itself, conflict is not wrong. Afterall, Jesus was in conflict His entire ministry, but He never sinned. The way we respond to conflict can be right or wrong, righteous or unrighteous. That means we can respond to conflict in a righteous (Christ-like) way or we can respond to it in an unrighteous (un Christ-like) way.
Conflict is often a natural result of differing perspectives and opinions. Many conflicts in marriage result simply from the difference between how men and women see and understand life. Other conflicts result from differing personalities and backgrounds. These differences can easily move us from the realm of discussion to outright conflict as we seek to find answers and solutions to the issues of life. As odd as it may sound, conflict can actually be healthy.
The way we respond to conflict can be right or wrong, righteous or unrighteous.
Conflict can move from healthy to unhealthy when the desire or need to be right becomes part of the equation. Let’s face it, we all want to be right and we all want others to validate that by agreeing with us. Unfortunately, our desire to be right has the ability to overwhelm us. This desire can cause us to move from discussion, to manipulation, to outright aggression in our attempt to prove and defend our rightness.
I have seen good marriages descend into open hostility over a difference in opinion on how to respond to a parenting situation. Instead of using the different perspectives provided by each other’s viewpoints, these couples end up attacking and actually devaluing each other. All because their need to be right overwhelmed their desire to maintain a healthy relationship.
A man I know recently wrote in his blog, “When we are more broken over our capacity for hostility than we are over the perceived issue, we find a way to hear God. When we hear Him, we can find healing.” (Epistle w/ Kevin “Mac” McClure –You Can Be Right And Still Be Wrong).
Herein lies the real problem; whereas pride demands being right, humility hungers and thirsts for being righteous. When we are in pride, we become deaf to the voice of God.
When working with couples and church leaders who are in serious conflict, I often ask this question; “What price are you willing to pay for the privilege of being right? Is your insistence on being right worth damaging, or even destroying a relationship? Is it worth damaging, or even destroying, your marriage or this church?” Truth be told, the insistence on being right destroys relationships. Another way to phrase the question, “Is being right worth being alone?”
In his blog article, “Mac” also observed that God is not looking for who is right but rather who is righteous. Every conflict needs a redeemer (one who brings righteous resolution and healing).