Conflict is unavoidable in life.
Conflict will always be a part of life as long as there are people…because people are fallible. People have issues…and people are broken.
We all have our own set of issues, as well as our own ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and desires. We also all have an idea of how WE think life should happen…and how WE think life should work. And then conflict begins…Grief can bring up a ton of conflict. Other times in life, God sometimes allows someone with VERY different issues, ideas, thoughts, beliefs, desires, and ideals to cross our path…or they may live with us!
We can view a person we are having conflict with as:
- sandpaper that gets underneath our skin…or…
- a divine vessel from God to sand away the negative character qualities and imperfections we have in our own life
Depending on how we view our offender or a situation of conflict, we will either deepen our negative character traits…or…become a better person throughout a trial.
In my last post, I stated, “Ultimately, conflict surfaces because it is one of the enemy’s strongest ways of keeping us from achieving what God wants for us, and what God truly wants for those around us. Conflict continually keeps hurts and problems stirred up…sucking up our extra energy…which prevents us from FULLY achieving God’s Will and His best for our lives. Ultimately, conflict keeps us from TRULY loving God and GENUINELY loving others.” …Think about this for a minute…
So where does conflict originate?
EVERY CONFLICT STEMS FROM ONE ORIGINAL SOURCE: One, or both parties, involved in a conflict has a major character deficit. Character deficits…and the granddaddy of all character deficits–selfishness (pride)–are what conflicts are rooted in.
James 4:1 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Aren’t they caused by the selfish desires that fight to control you?” Our character, and the selfish desires of our heart, try to control us. That is why it is so important to control and develop our own personal character throughout life.
Whatever negative character qualities we do not gain control over, will end up controlling us.
Let me explain: Character is the sum of qualities that a person either possesses or doesn’t possess that dictates every single thought, word, action or deed.
Some people are fortunate to have been trained to have character qualities while growing up; others have not had an opportunity to have developed their character yet.
One thing is for certain though: EVERYBODY can choose to develop their character from this day forward…and by doing so, resolve many conflicts in life, as well as many life difficulties.
When people go through grief, they may say things that they really do not mean. They may even do things that are not typical of them, too. It takes time for a broken heart to heal and it can take a lot of work to balance out after life has thrown a huge curveball. As a result of grief and loss, normally good character can suffer greatly.
We must continually develop and strengthen our character throughout our lives…because “life” and grief has the ability to change or weaken our character. Since our character can be weakened by life events…or wrong motives or wrong influences we allow into our life…it is imperative to keep a strong “self-check” in place over our character and our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
Conflict is not always a “They’re wrong and I am right” situation. Conflict can certainly be that, but more often than not, it is simply a lack of character…and the 2 parties involved can not resolve an issue until the character quality is improved and resolved. Without the character quality being defined, improved, and resolved, the offending person no more understands how to resolve the issue than they understand how to develop the character quality itself, making lasting conflict resolution very unlikely.
The more we become Christ-like, the more character our lives will have…and the more we go to God to ask Him to develop His character and the fruits of His Spirit into our lives, the more opportunities we will have to develop them. (By the way, there are solid opportunities to put character, and the fruits of God’s Spirit, into practice during times of conflict…usually, conflict will reveal what is TRULY in a person’s heart…and the amount of genuine character they have. It’s not a fun revelation, but it is genuinely revealing to say the least).
Here is a list of popular character qualities. It is not an exhaustive list, but a most common list. As both parties read the qualities, each truly has the opportunity to take the time to see which qualities they have personally violated towards the person they are in conflict with. Remember, it is not about being “right”…it is about both parties owning their part and RESOLVING the conflict.
Two people can absolutely tear each other apart with arguments and divisions…without seeing any positive resolution at all. So, doesn’t it make sense to battle and change the negative character instead of battling the same topics over and over again?
Galatians 5:15 shares, “If you go on hurting each other and tearing each other apart [biting and devouring one another], be careful, or you will completely destroy [or consume] each other.”
Take a moment and look at the following list of character qualities, along with the negative character trait associated with the needed positive character quality for conflict resolution. A lot of times, if someone cannot pin point a character quality that is needed to resolve an issue, they can most likely pin point the negative trait that is being displayed. Find the negative character quality that is being shown and then develop the opposite (positive) character quality to better the situation.
Majority of people do not merely react to another person; they react to a person’s character/lack of character…or guiding life principles/lack of principles…or values/lack of values.
Whether it is conflict during grief, or conflict within a marriage or family relationship, church/religion-based relationships, work relationships, or any other conflict or relationship…majority can be resolved when fixing the root…which is fixing the underlying character issues.
2 people then are not fighting each other…they are overcoming negative character qualities together.
Some may refuse to work on issues, their character, or relationships (due to being stubborn, or maybe being deeply hurt by a situation or another person), so they choose to cut off or remove their self from the situation. Regardless of what one chooses…and that is truly between them and God…their negative character traits will follow them into a new relationship or situation. And the lessons usually get harder and much more difficult. God rarely allows us to be offensive, or refuse to obey His ways for conflict resolution, and then walk off and be blessed. He usually sends a much more cruel messenger or situation to motivate us to change our character and our ways. It’s just the way it works!
So, why choose to work on it…especially when you truly do not want to?…It makes much more sense to develop our own character…whether another person does or not…and whether a situation changes or not…because we have to look at ourselves in the mirror each and every day the rest of our lives regardless of the outcome of our conflict. We ultimately do our part to please God.
Consider these most common character traits that can be lacking. The anecdote is for each person to do a self check to truly see which negative character trait they are exhibiting, so that they can clearly figure out how to develop the positive character trait for lasting results in conflict resolution:
(Before reading this list, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you which character qualities you need to develop and work on. Don’t be discouraged, everybody has MANY qualities they need to develop!)
Acceptance vs. Rejection
Adaptability vs. Stubbornness
Alertness vs. Unawareness
Attentiveness vs. Unconcern
Authenticity vs. Fakeness/Hypocrisy
Availability vs. Self-centeredness
Being Under Authority vs. Selfish Rebellion
Benefit of the Doubt vs. Harsh Judgment
Boldness vs. Fearfulness
Cautiousness vs. Rashness
Civility vs. Incivility
Communication vs. Lacking Communication
Compassion vs. Indifference
Community/Family vs. Isolation
Contentment vs. Covetousness
Cooperation vs. Rebellion
Courage vs. Cowardice
Courtesy vs. Rudeness
Creativity vs. Underachievement/Dullness
Decisiveness vs. Double-mindedness
Dedication vs. Wavering
Deference vs. Rudeness
Dependability vs. Inconsistency
Determination vs. Faintheartedness
Diligence vs. Slothfulness
Discernment vs. Judgment
Discretion vs. Simplemindedness
Empathy vs. Hard-heartedness
Endurance vs. Giving up
Excellence vs. Apathy
Faith vs. Presumption
Faithfulness vs. Unfaithfulness
Flexibility vs. Resistance
Forgiveness vs. Bitterness
Generosity/Hospitality vs. Stinginess
Gentleness vs. Harshness
Gratefulness vs. Unthankfulness
Hardworking vs. Entitlement
Harmony vs. Jealousy
Honesty vs. Lying
Honor vs. Dishonor
Humility vs. Pride
Humor/Fun vs. Coldness/Refusal to connect
Initiative vs. Unresponsiveness
Integrity vs. Lack of Morals
Joyfulness vs. Self-pity
Justice vs. Fairness
Kindness vs. Harshness
Leadership vs. Wavering
Love vs. Hate/Pride/Selfishness
Loyalty vs. Betrayal
Meekness vs. Anger
Mercy vs. Judgment/Judging
Obedience vs. Willfulness
Orderliness vs. Disorganization
Patience vs. Impatience/Restlessness
Peace vs. Contention/Disharmony
Positivity vs. Negativity
Punctuality vs. Tardiness
Purpose vs. Cluelessness/Flightiness
Purity/Virtue vs. Impurity
Purity of Motives vs. Manipulation
Resilience vs. Quitting
Resourcefulness/Conservation vs. Wastefulness
Responsibility vs. Unreliability
Respect/Reverence vs. Disrespect
Safety vs. Carelessness
Security vs. Anxiety
Self-Control vs. Self-indulgence
Self-Discipline vs. Undisciplined
Selflessness vs. Selfishness
Sensitivity vs. Callousness
Servant’s Heart vs. Haughtiness
Sincerity vs. Insincerity
Teamwork/Unity vs. Competitiveness/”Me” Attitude
Thankfulness vs. Complaining
Thoroughness vs. Incompleteness
Thriftiness vs. Extravagance
Tolerance vs. Prejudice
Trust vs. Mistrust
Truthfulness vs. Deception
Unity vs. Division
Vision vs. Apathy
Wisdom vs. Foolishness/Natural Inclinations
Take a few days to truly think about these character traits, the positive and the negative, and then pray about how you are going to further strengthen the good traits you have, as well as how best to develop and work on the negative traits you have too. We ALL have both positive and negative traits and one of the greatest things about life is that we have the grand opportunity to continually better ourselves. When we love God and love others….and we choose to actively better the lives of others, and better ourselves, good things have a way of entering into our lives.
Everybody at some point has failed in a situation or a relationship…but keep in mind: “Failure is an event, never a person”…as long as you have breath in you today, you can improve your life and your character! And improving your character will always lead to a better life, better relationships, and the ability to resolve conflict!
Next post, I will be writing about how to develop each of the character qualities above. Stay tuned! 🙂