1 - Conflict is Inevitable (and Healthy!)

Don’t Try to Avoid Conflict

Most people go to great lengths to avoid conflict. Rather than confront another person, we avoid the situation until bitterness, resentment, and dysfunction begin to take over. In many cases, people avoid conflict out of a fear of being perceived negatively, or harming a relationship. Yet Jeff Baker, a clinical psychologist for over 30 years, makes the case that conflict is actually a positive event. Jeff states that conflict serves to build trust between two people, and grows the relationship to a deeper level.  

 Conflict is a natural part of the human experience. When worked out effectively, conflict serves to better connect people and build trust. 

What do you think of Jeff’s assessment that conflict is a natural and helpful part of being human? How have you experienced this to be true?
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Jeff made the point that even Jesus had conflicts with many people—His disciples, Pharisees, and religious leaders. How does knowing this change your perspective on conflict?
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It is often a mark of a deep and thriving relationship when conflict can be worked through in a healthy manner. The bigger risk a relationship may run is the avoidance of conflict. 

Jesus displayed love by being willing to confront and engage with others in conflict. Often, avoiding conflict displays a lack of care for a another person by valuing your own comfort or reputation above the other person’s best interests. 

Proverbs 27:6 (ESV)

6Faithful are the wounds of a friend;

profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

As Proverbs tell us, “faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Lovingly engaging another person in conflict is more desirable than a fake veneer of harmony.  

Do you see conflict as a way to be “faithful” or loving toward someone else? What stands in the way of you embracing this perspective? What steps can you take today to faithfully engage others in conflict when it is necessary?
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In conflict, we have the opportunity to grow closer with another person by being authentic and building trust.