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Summary: Conflict resolution is exemplified in Acts 15 by James and the apostles.

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ILlustration: Many people find themselves stuck in ruts unable to find a way out of their conflicts. Millions in North America suffer from depression because they are unable to properly channel their feelings of anger, resentment and frustration.Unconsciously, people take out their exasperation on others. Many people silently experience road wage because they have failed to learn how to apply Paul’s formula for anger management in Eph. 4:28-32 where he writes, "Put away anger and put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another even as God in Christ has forgiven us." (Eph. 4:28-32)

Men and women feel that the ventilation provides them with temporary relief from their raging emotions. Unless one is willing to deal with conflicts, needed changes may never be made and suffering continues. Furthermore, unless we are open to constructive criticism it is unlikely that any improvements will be made.

Conflicts with people who have a different perspective from our own forces us to re-evaluate the soundness of our own position. When we encounter an opposing viewpoint it helps us to consider new ways approaching a whole range of issues. Crises have a way of helping us mature emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Ross Stagner has said, "I am sure we can begin by agreeing that every major advance in civilization has resulted from some type of conflict."

Conflicts have a way of cleansing us from worn-out ideas and methods. Different struggles may also help renew our motivation and give us a fresh perspective about our organization.

Disagreements also have a way of allowing for healthy ventilation of feelings that gives people a chance to air their grievances.

Failure to let some steam off occasionally can lead some people into depression, anxiety attacks or vices that are far more self-destructive.

In order to facilitate the resolution of conflicts with the religious right and reduce our own stress, let us take a look at some of the following strategies for successfully resolving these conflicts:

1. Realize that if you really care, you are bound to face conflicts. Only the apathetic are immune from conflicts since they do not care what happens as long as the problems do not affect them personally. Having conflicts is a normal part of growth both for individuals and organizations.

2. Honestly appreciate how each conflict helps us reveal some of our own limited understanding. Failure to honestly acknowledge our own incomplete knowledge of a situation can only place blame where it does not belong. Nothing will irritate people more than a " holier than thou" disposition that tries to look down on people for their alleged shortcomings. Seldom do people have pure motives. We all have a long way to go before we can say we are perfect. We all commit sins of commission, omission, disposition and pre-disposition.

3. Unless we are willing to continually make changes we will build up resentments that will cloud our own judgment. When we feel discontented, under-used or slighted, we are unable to keep our perspectives in balance. When conflicts occur we take out our frustrations by venting our anger on a person or a group as a means of releasing our pent-up emotions. Be sure to treat problems from their root causes rather than applying medicine to superficial symptoms.

4. Carefully pick and choose your battles. Do not fight for things that are non-essentials. They are many battles that are just not worth the effort. Learn from wise mentors that it is best to discern the difference between what is essential from an eternal sense. When you are able to look at life from an eternal viewpoint it will automatically reduce tension, stress, and needless worry.

5. Learn how to apply the best of the following approaches to conflict from the following combination of task and relationship orientation to people and problems:

FIVE ORIENTATIONS TO RESOLVING CONFLICTS

High on Relational Oriented Conflict Resolution Style Puppy Dog -

This person is willing to go along to get along with others. He or she is mainly interested in maintaining relationships at just about any cost. By learning how to accommodate others puppy dogs are willing to welcome everyone regardless of their perspective. This person generally lacks the assertiveness to press for their own interests for fear they may feel alienated and disliked.

The Wise Owl - This person tries to maximize both their relationships and tasks. They say, "Let us work together for the common good." They are able to help everybody get a little of what they really want. This individual cares about people’s feelings, but also wants to see progress in the accomplishing of goals. They are not shy about defending what they believe. Yet, this person communicates in a friendly way that shows a concern for what is best for people and projects. Overall they know when to agree to disagree for the greater good.

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