When it comes to conflict, there are 3 different type of people:
1. Lovers. These are the people that love conflict. They are always ready for a good argument, and they find it very hard to back down even when they are wrong. To these, Paul says, “Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights.” (2 Timothy 2:23) Our goal should never be confrontation, but reconciliation.
2. Laggers. These are the people that avoid conflict at all costs, and never really resolve relational issues. As a result, they are unable to truly be close to anyone because they push down their true feelings or shut down another’s. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9) Instead of being “peacemakers”, though, many of us have learned to be “peacekeepers”, never dealing with the issues and the hurt in order to find true peace in our relationships.
3. Leaners. This is how the Bible instructs us to deal with conflict, to lean into our relationships in both the easy and difficult times. Hebrews 12:14 tells us to “pursue peace with all people”, not to run away from conflict. I remember a specific time that I had to confront someone for not keeping his word. I was really struggling with this, because I am one of those people that absolutely hates confrontation. As I was praying about this, I heard the Lord speak to my heart, “Craig, don’t look at it as confrontation, but look at it as seeing this person grow.” This set me free because I realized that I loved this person too much to not help him grow in this area of his life.
Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois hold to this understanding when encouraging people to work through conflict: “The popular concept of unity is a fantasy, where disagreements never surface and contrary opinions are never stated with force. We expect disagreement, forceful disagreement. So instead of unity, we use the word community. The mark of community- true biblical unity- is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of a reconciling spirit.”
When relationships are hard, I encourage you to lean into the conflict, with a heart of reconciliation. Your heart is worth it, and so is theirs.