SGL: Dealing with Conflict

Home group is a key discipleship opportunity for people to become believers and grow spiritually. Any time you have people, however, there may be conflict. Several articles have been written, which provide counsel on dealing with controlling talkers, tangents and rabbit trails, anger issues, politics and deep or difficult theological questions. Please refer to them for more ideas on how to handle those challenges.

As long as you lead a home group, be willing to face new kinds of conflict.  Conflict is not bad, because it can sharpen everyone’s thinking and it can help people grow up. Conflict will cause people to depend on the Lord rather than themselves.  Conflict can also expose erroneous thinking, resentment, sin patterns and personality flaws that God wants individuals to address.  Therefore, do not be afraid of conflict. Rather, be ready to rise above it and look for win/win solutions.  Here is a great and simple method for dealing with conflict.  It is called the PAUSE method developed by Peacemaker Ministries.1

The PAUSE method addresses five steps to consider when dealing with conflict. The acrostic PAUSE stands for Prepare, Affirm relationships, Understand interests, Search for creative solutions, and Evaluate options objectively and reasonably. Let’s look at each one.

Prepare

The first step in dealing with any conflict is to prepare yourself for facing the person, with whom you have conflict.  Your purpose is to restore the relationship, not defend yourself or prove you were right. Paul said,

3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Phil. 2:3-4 NKJ)

You may do several things like pray, plan some of your thoughts and even anticipate some reactions. You may also seek counsel from another spiritual leader. However, the purpose is not to gain support or gossip. The spiritual leader should be a trusted person, with whom you have confidence will speak from God’s Word and is part of the solution to the conflict, that is, a person who has oversight for both persons.

Affirm

The second step is to affirm the relationship. What do you affirm about the other person and the relationship in order to foster unity and purpose for restoration. Amos wrote, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3 NKJ) Every believer has far more in common than he has differences with other believers. That is because of sharing the shed blood of Jesus. Begin your thoughts and discussion with the person affirming him and good things about the relationship.

Understand interests

The third step is to listen to understand. That may take time. It may take a significant amount of silence to genuinely hear the other person’s perspective. What motivated the person and is important to the other person. You are looking for the concern, desire, need, limitation, fear, perspective, agenda, or goal of the other person. Paul wrote,

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (Phil. 2:1-2 NKJ)

Search for creative solutions.

The fourth step is to take the understanding and together, search for creative solutions. The solutions are win/win ones. What works for both parties?  If both share the blood of Christ, then how can both live together, when they both are seeking the same objectives – to honor and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.?  Solomon wrote,

7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; 8 He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints. 9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path. (Pro. 2:7-9 NKJ)

When a Christian dies to himself, it can be fun to discover a win/win solution. The last step ensures lasting results.

Evaluate options objectively

When creative solutions are determined and implemented, then return several times over the next several months to determine if any adjustments should be made. Your purpose is to affirm that the solution is working and both parties are ministering together.  We see this principle from Daniel,

11 So Daniel said to the steward1 whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 “Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.” 14 So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days. 15 And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies. 16 Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. (Dan. 1:11-16 NKJ)

This PAUSE principle works well. I’ve used it many times. It’s easy to learn and easy to apply. Put it into practice at home and in your home group and you’ll find that you’ll be able to work through conflict more quickly and with better results.

1Much of this material was borrowed from one segment of instruction offered from the series titled, “Resolving Everyday Conflict,” from Peacemakers Ministries, which is headquartered in Billings, Montana.

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