why we MUST embrace conflict

I really don’t like conflict. In fact, I don’t think anyone does. 

Those who say they like conflict are either bullies who love a good fight OR are actually referring to the outcomes of conflict rather than the conflict itself. 

I love what healthy conflict accomplishes. 

Conflict achieves better results. 

Conflict ensures that all aspects of a decision, event or direction have been fully considered. When ideas are up for debate and discussion we refine and clarify them for best outcomes. Conflict means that we haven’t just settled for the easiest way or the idea that was presented first or loudest. 

Conflict refines our character. 

No one wants to be told that they’ve behaved inappropriately or that they’re being received in an unpleasant manner – but surely we’d rather the chance to change that through awareness and assistance rather than persist in ignorance? Conflict is necessary to acknowledge our sharp edges and give us the chance to smooth them down. 

Conflict strengthens relationships. 

Conflict builds trust. In relationships where hard conversations are lovingly navigated, misalignments recalibrated and, ways forward together are negotiated intimacy and trust are grown. Willingness to identify and endure conflict communicates a depth of commitment. Pressing in through the tough times is what forges strong relational connection. Ignoring issues over fear of conflict creates emotional distance, mistrust and, ultimately, separation. 

So how do we conflict well? 

HEALTHY CONFLICT – 

  • Debates issues not people.

Finding the best outcome means separating an idea from the person who presents it – otherwise we have to go with the decision that belongs to the person we like most or are more afraid of upsetting. We also have to be okay with our idea being trumped by a better one or refined by other thoughts without taking it personally. 

  • Is best when invited. 

Creating an environment where conflict is welcomed – through invitation and self-control in our responses – can diffuse some of the tension and apprehension. Giving others permission to speak frankly, critique honestly and call us to bigger and better in our behaviour and ideas won’t make conflict fun but will make it more healthy and edifying. 

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#4 when encouragement is a casualty 


My sister-in-law is a really good cook!

Back in the day, I would find it really hard to encourage her when she cooked something nice. To actually articulate “this tastes great” didn’t seem to roll off my tongue very easily. It took me a while, but I worked out I feared that by saying HER cooking was good I was saying MY cooking was inferior. That innate in complimenting her was an element of putting myself down or somehow lessening my own abilities. So the combination of my pride and jealousy stopped me from encouraging her, fearful I would somehow diminish myself by affirming her.

You’re all shaking your heads and ‘tutting’ quietly to yourselves right now … “that Kim sure has problems, who would do such a thing?” YOU WOULD! Go on, admit it, you do it! Or you’ve done it. Or you know someone who has done it. Continue reading

The True Cost of Jealousy #1

Australia’s 12.4 BILLION dollar advertising industry is built largely on the human heart’s capacity for jealousy and envy. We are all well aware of their strategies because, even though we can often see them for exactly what they are, they work! We are constantly bombarded with images of people living a better lifestyle, gadgets that are higher-tech, clothes and accessories that are more stylish; the allure of bigger, better, more.

As we’ve looked at in previous blogs, jealousy is a warning light. It reveals something of what is happening in our hearts and minds that is out of line or unhealthy. It can show us that we’re looking around for our sense of self instead of ahead to God, it can show that we’re not trusting in God’s plans, provision or purpose; or it can show us we’re doing the right things with the wrong motives.

Continue reading

The True Cost of Jealousy #2

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

It continues with quite a list … including a time to be born and a time to die, a time to scatter and a time to gather, a time to search and a time to give up. And then concludes in verse 11 by saying “He has made everything beautiful in His time.”

There is a time for everything. God has ordered the changes in the physical world and He also orders them in OUR world. There is a time for sleeping in and a time for sleepless nights. There is a time for travelling and a time for staying around home. There is a time to spend and a time to save (or scrape by). There are times of deep grief and times of great rejoicing. There are seasons of relative ease and times of seemingly perpetual struggle. Continue reading

AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU – #6 Grow in Persistence

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Rom 12:18)

When using this text as a guide for how to do relationships well, it is too easy to use those first four words as our escape clause … “if it is possible”.

There are many broken or unhealthy relationships that we are very quick to write off as impossible. Things have gone sour, friendships have become untenable, families have become dysfunctional because “it’s just not possible” to make them work. Sound familiar? Continue reading

AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU – #5 Grow in Humility

Without a doubt the greatest enemy of good, healthy, thriving relationships is … you!! It’s me! Ourselves. Our self-focus and our pride will, time and again, derail our ability to do relationships well.

We easily identify that in other people – in fact, you’ve probably even said it before in a heated exchange or about someone “all you do is think about yourself” or “why can’t you ever just admit that you’re wrong”!?

Pride is an expression of our selfishness because it is birthed out of our desire to either improve the way we feel about ourselves or protect the way we feel about ourselves. Continue reading

AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU – #4 Grow in Forgiveness

Have you ever had someone hold a grudge against you? A family member or a friend? You said or did something wrong … maybe recently but maybe ages ago … and they just won’t move on or let it go – they seem determined to hold it against you.

It hurts, doesn’t it?

And even if it’s got to the point where it doesn’t hurt anymore, it’s probably at the expense of the relationship – because relationships can’t function where unforgiveness and bitterness and resentment are active. Continue reading

AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU – #3 Grow in Understanding

I spend a lot of time thinking, reading, learning and writing about relationships because I find that most of my own personal challenges manifest themselves in that space but also the majority of the kinds of things I find myself talking to others about come back to the area of relationships too. Whether I’m speaking to children or parents about family conflict or frustration or people who are struggling to connect well with others in their ministry teams or people having difficulties at work or school – I find myself constantly needing to process with people a greater understanding about themselves and then about others.

Prov 4:7 Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you get, get understanding.

Other translations say, “though it cost all you have, get understanding/insight”.

I can’t even number the times I’ve made bad calls or responded inappropriately because I haven’t fully understood where another person is coming from – what their motives or intent are, what information they did or didn’t have, what other factors are influencing their behaviour or choices. I, like you I suspect, can be quick to assess and quick to judge because I automatically think that they know everything I know – in which case, there’s no excuse for their behaviour. It happens too often – hopefully less often – but too often.

Likewise, I could write pages about the number of times I’ve been misunderstood and judged accordingly – and critically. Whether a motive of mine has been questioned or I was saying something in jest and it was taken seriously or someone thought I did something that I didn’t … and then I’ve had to receive the hurtful rejection or criticism … and it’s hard!

Relationships take a beating when people don’t take the time to understand or have the grace to give others a chance to explain.

“Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.” Never let your decisions – particularly of the negative kind – be made on the basis of presumptions and assumptions. Do whatever it takes to understand fully so any response or reaction is based on truth.

  • START at “I don’t understand” – don’t finish there!

When you come to that place in an interaction that you exclaim (or even just think) “I just don’t understand you!” you have arrived at a great place to START to really work on that relationship. When we acknowledge that we don’t understand we are best positioned to clarify misunderstanding and misalignments. “I don’t understand” is the gateway to “help me understand” which is the key to unlocking all sorts of wonderfully healthy things needed for your relationships to flourish.

  • Choose to fill the “gap” with TRUST.

At our Kids Min Team Retreat I made a commitment to my team that I would always seek to fill the gap of understanding with trust. That when I don’t know why they did or didn’t do something, or when I hear something about what they’ve said or done, or there’s a chance for disappointment in an unfulfilled expectation … I would presume the best until I knew otherwise. I committed to trust that whatever I didn’t know or understand would be enough to have me not need to react … so I will wait.

It’s really hard to do – but it’s really worth it. It can save us a whole lot of unnecessary hurt and set us up in the right position to move forward in our relationships.

As far as it depends on you … how much energy do you invest into understanding others? What would it look like if you were to let “I don’t understand” be the starting point for relational interactions? How might things change if you were to fill any gaps in your understanding with trustinstead of suspicion, doubt or judgement?

#1 As Far as it Depends on You (read now)
#2 Grow in God’s Love (read now)
#3 Grow in Understanding
#4 Grow in Forgiveness (read now)
#5 Grow in Humility (read now)
#6 Grow in Persistence (read now)

AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU #2 Grow in GOD’S LOVE

When it comes to relationships, to loving other people, you can’t give what you don’t have.

If you’re finding people hard to love and you’re finding relationships are difficult to manage … maybe part of that is that you don’t fully get what love is all about. Maybe it’s because you don’t have a lot of experienceobserving or receiving real love in action? Maybe we don’t fully ‘get’ GOD’S love? The more you understand of God’s love towards you and others, the more that fills you up and overwhelms you, the more that will overflow from you.

You can’t give what you don’t have.

In Luke 15 we see an incredible snapshot of what God’s love looks like. Jesus tells three stories. Firstly the one about the lost sheep – you know, where the shepherd who has 100 sheep notices one missing and leaves the 99 to go searching for it … and then He tells the story of the woman who loses one coin of the ten she had and virtually turns her house upside down to find it … and then there’s the story of the prodigal son or the patient father – who waits patiently and hopefully for his wayward child to return.

All three of those stories end the same way … they end with a celebration!!! Each of them calls their friends and neighbours and says “Rejoice with me!! Something that was important to me was lost and now it’s not!”

Jesus uses that context to tell us that Heaven throws a party when one of us who was lost is found. ALL of Heaven throws a party when one person who is far from God turns back towards Him. Just for one! God loved the world (and the one) SO much, that He sent His only Son to pay the price required to restore us to Himself (John 3:16) – translation – God loved you enough to sacrifice His own Son so that He could have relationship with you! YOU matter to God. And, from the stories Jesus told we can see that in God’s economy PEOPLE MATTER – every one matters … every single one gets a party! Everyone who has wandered off is noticed and missed, everyone who is lost gets searched for, everyone who returns is welcomed and embraced … every ONE matters to God.

And that means YOU and it means ME and it means everyone that we meet – incidentally as we go about life or those that we DO life more closely with … everyone matters to God! If we are able to view people through that lens it will change how WE love, it will change how we do relationships. How we understand God’s love for us and for others changes how we love and connect with other people.

As far as it depends on you … do you LOVE deeply, selflessly, passionately, committedly? Does the way you love look like God’s love? Does the way you love other people reflect how much they matter to Him?

#1 As Far as it Depends on You (read now)
#2 Grow in God’s Love
#3 Grow in Understanding (read now)
#4 Grow in Forgiveness (read now)
#5 Grow in Humility (read now)
#6 Grow in Persistence (read now)