Summary: Conflicts are part of everyone's life. What is God's ways of dealing with them?
Drawing Strength from God to Manage Conflict
Our this month’s theme is “Countering Conflict God’s Way”.
The first thing that comes to mind when we think about this topic is the word conflict. Do we have conflicts in life? Wow!! What a question. Let me ask it in a different way. Is there any one who has not come across conflict in your life. Well , if you have not , just get married, and you will understand the meaning of conflict soon.
Conflict is a reality, as day and night. There is no life without conflict. There is conflict of priorities, conflict of ideas, conflict of personalities, conflict of race, religion, faith, finances, etc etc, the list can go on an on. There is conflict between couples, conflict between siblings, conflict between parents and children, conflict among neighbors, conflict among friends. There is serious conflict in the offices, between coworkers, between employees and bosses. A conflict less life is a myth that does not exist.
So, how do people deal with conflict. There are many ways, some of which are as follows
The most common form of dealing with conflict is that of avoidance. Many just run away from conflicts. This is true especially in Christian circles. We mistakenly believe that by avoiding, the conflict will go away. This is not true. Avoiding conflict does not solve anything. This is what Jacob tried to do his whole life, till God had to literally wrestle with him. He was avoiding conflict with his parents, with his brother, with his wives, with his father in law, with God himself. We know that it did not work.
The second common form of conflict resolution is to fight aggressively. Some people keep fighting and competing till they win. That is the only solution acceptable to them. But this is a dangerous way of dealing with conflict. This destroys all forms of relationships. This destroys communities and countries and humanity. This is what Hitler tried to do. This is what the Jihadis recommend. This is the “My way or Highway” mentality.
The third form of conflict management is by giving up and yielding. Here, one just accommodates the other points of view, and letting the other person have their way, without considering the cost. Incidentally, this is what I do when I have conflicts with Leslie. She always wins.
The forth way of conflict management is through productive cooperation. This is when the parties involved in a conflict decide to cooperate. In corporate circles, this is always the preferred manner of conflict resolution. This is the method that is taught in management schools. This is considered to be the ideal form of conflict resolution.
Let us also look at what happens to the parties involved in these forms of conflict management. When we avoid conflict, actually no one wins. Everyone loses in this process. This is a Lose-Lose situation. When we compete and fight and win, it is always at the cost of the other party. So, only one party wins here. This is true when we yield or accommodate, we let some one else win at our cost of losing. When we cooperate, it is truly the Win-Win situation.
These are all Man’s ways of dealing with conflicts. But then, God’s ways are different from Man’s ways. God’s ways are reflected in His teachings. Matthew 18:15-17, Romans 12:17-21, Luke 17:3, Philippians 2:4, Leviticus 19:18, Deuteronomy 1:17 etc give us sufficient glimpse into how God wants us to handle conflict His way. God knows that true cooperation does not come without sacrifices. God knows that everyone has sinned and hence they need Reconciliation and Reparation and Restoration. So that is God’s way of dealing with conflicts. In God’s way, all parties win, but with the added sweetness of sacrifice that He demonstrated on the cross. God’s way is winning with the touch of Grace.
Dealing with conflict is not easy. And it is even more difficult to deal with conflict when we have to do it God’s way. It needs enormous amount of strength, strength beyond what the world can give us. So where do we go for this strength to deal with conflicts? That is today’s theme.
Let us look at Joshua to see where we can go to get our strength. Today’s reading is from Joshua 1:1-9, but before that I would like to go back a bit and start from the last Chapter of Deuteronomy. :Let us see why Joshua needed strength. Deuteronomy 34 is a short chapter where the last act and death of Moses is recorded. Let us go there. In a brief but very impactful manner this chapter paints two strong images of Moses.
1. Servant of the LORD: Deuteronomy 34:5. This particular title “Servant of the LORD” is applied to Moses 18 times, more than any other individual in the Old Testament. Moses was the first model of for the title “Servant of the LORD”