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  • Writer's pictureRichard Parrish

Living With Conflict Looking Inward Encourages Discovery

Living with conflict may not be fun, but it can be fulfilling. So, how is it possible to discover confrontation as a gift?

The notion that a new location, job, relationship, or winning the lottery will somehow create a “conflict-free” environment is naïve. Accepting conflict as part of life allows us to discover growth opportunities.

When disputes happen, it’s tempting for me to become defensive, especially if someone questions my character or challenges my convictions. Without others willing to confront me, I can become blind to behavior that may be off-putting to some people.

I remember one of my co-workers who approached me. “May I be honest with you,” she asked? Immediately I thought: This is going to be an awkward conversation.

Inwardly, I had already moved into a defensive posture.

Why did a sincere question create such internal conflict? I recalled James’ command: “... let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, [and] slow to anger” (James 1:19).

Recognizing my resistance, I told myself: Stop. Don’t try and defend; be willing to listen and learn. I’m glad I did.

The conversation revealed something I had said in a joking fashion. My colleague was kind enough to confront me, reminding me that some may consider my remarks offensive. That encounter helped me recognize that my associate was more interested in helping me succeed than criticizing me.

I thanked my co-worker for addressing the matter with me.

The second step necessary to see conflict as a gift is: We must look inward because a defensive posture hinders discovery.

A potential “awkward” conversation became an incredible gift because I looked inward.

I’m not perfect -- and you’re not either. We make mistakes. Sometimes we intentionally do things we know we shouldn’t. There are times when we unknowingly say or do something that may be inappropriate.

We cannot discover the gift of conflict unless we are willing to look inward!

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