The re-occurring theme in my counseling with men revolves around conflicts in their relationships–either at home or at work. We all face conflict. It is inevitable, but the concern I have is that the Christians I often meet with approach conflict with much the same ambitions and strategies as the unbelieving world around us. At the core–the issue is about “who” wins, and when the win becomes focused on us–we all lose!
In every conflict, we must first decide who is going to win, and it is either about “us” winning or about God winning. This is the fundamental issue that each of us must resolve when we face conflict, because it is the foundation on which we will build our case. If we see conflict as a threat to “us” and our personal rights and privileges, then most of us deal with conflict by either rolling up our sleeves and “sluggin’ it out” or we choose to “run” from the conflict and try to escape. In either case, our response to conflict revolves around us—our wants, our needs, our ambitions. We either run or fight, but the focus is on us. So we justify the means by which we deal with conflict, because of the ends that we have established, i.e., securing or advancing our own kingdoms.
May I suggest another path…it is the path of obedience and surrender to Christ and His glory. Simply put, we must enter in to conflict with one ambition: to see the glory of Christ and His kingdom advanced! So, our single ambition should be to “win”—but the win is for Christ and for the advance of His Kingdom! “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God,” (I Cor. 10:13).
It has been said, that when we seek to win– we lose! It is only when we seek to honor Christ in our conflicts that we experience true victory—as it is a victory that ripples into eternity. To lay down our rights and privileges for another (especially when it is our “opponent”) is no small thing, but it is possible when we do it for Christ’s sake. Once we have determined to honor Christ in our conflict–that decision will dictate all that we do and say–our motives, our words, and our actions. May God grant us the grace to honor Him—and even more so in the conflicts we encounter!