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How to Navigate Conflict



In our final week of this collection, Ben Stuart tackles how to tactfully handle conflict in a way that honors God, gives dignity to the other, and allows you to be honest. We are going to have to speak, but we are given a blueprint on how to speak the truth in love.

Key Takeaway

There is a better way to handle conflict than avoiding or attacking. God calls us to speak the truth in love. When we love and care for the other, we can confront each other in a way that will lead to growth and redemption.

Everything that we have learned in this series is great on paper, but it easily breaks down in real life. Once we start dealing with real people, drama and conflict are a fact of life.

We have two primal responses.

1. We avoid. The way of communicating we prefer we don't extend to other people. The way we don't prefer, is often how we treat people by ghosting them or ignoring their efforts.

2. We attack. We do this a lot online. We've isolated ourselves into us versus them and feel fine writing horrible sentences about someone because you don't have to look them in the eye and see the pain that you caused.

When you dehumanize someone, it's easy to be inhumane.

There has to be a better way to treat each other. Can the Church offer the world something else? Is it possible to enter tension with the hope of redemption?

Ephesians tackles this. Ephesians 1 shows us where God crossed the boundary of our sin to rescue us. Ephesians 2 tells us that He can dissolve the walls of hostility so we can be a family. Ephesians 4 shows us how; by speaking the truth in love, we can grow in all things.

It is possible to enter tension with the hope of redemption. It's not just possible, it's purposeful and beautiful. It's an opportunity for growth. It can be a delight if you can enter it the right way.

How do we do it right?

1. You assume everyone has beauty. Every human being is made in the image of God and, therefore, has dignity to them. See Ephesians 4:25.

2. We assume everyone is broken. Everyone is beautiful but broken because of sin and would benefit from some correction. Conflict can be constructive if our goal is redemption, not destruction. Don't hate them; rebuke them frankly. It's loving to correct someone. A good friend is willing to risk what you think about them so they can help you. There are many verses that say the same thing. See Proverbs 20:30, 27:5-6, 27, 24:26. Leviticus 19:17.

We're not going to ignore each other. We are going to speak. We are going to speak the truth. No minimizing and no maximizing. How can you speak the truth to them out of a genuine concern for them so we can all grow?

How to respond?

1. You are going to speak...but when? Proverbs 12:16 says the prudent ignore an insult. This passage is a warning against being thin-skinned and taking offense to everything all the time. If you can't blow it off, then you have to talk about it.

2. You are going to speak the truth. You can know their actions and you can know your feelings. What you can't know if their motives. That's where most people go wrong.

3. You are going to speak the truth in love. Pick the proper time and place to confront someone. Don't wait too long because that disrupts clarity. Keep short accounts and a short time frame. Pick a time that is sensitive to their schedule. Don't pick a place that's humiliating, like around other people. Speak from your heart. Use the confrontation sandwich: say something you love about them, tell what tell did and how it made you feel, and then something you love about them again.

This also applies to how we handle confronting sin.

Matthew 18:15-20, Luke 17:4, James 5:19-20, and Galatians 6:1 are all examples of how to do this well. If you see someone struggling, if you care, you are going to move towards them. If you confront someone who says they are a Christian and they choose to continue to do things expressly condemned by Christ, then you have to wonder if they really know Jesus at all. When you love Christ, you don't revel in what he came to destroy.


"When you dehumanize someone, it's easy to be inhumane."

Ben Stuart

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Scripture References

  • Ephesians 4:11-16
  • Romans 5:8
  • Proverbs 20:30
  • Proverbs 27:5-6
  • Proverbs 27
  • Proverbs 24:26
  • Leviticus 19:17
  • Proverbs 12:16
  • Matthew 18:15-20
  • Luke 17:4
  • James 5:19
  • Galatians 6:1
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.