UNITY: Ten Essential skills in conflict resolution.


{Please note: These notes are not a full manuscript. There are truths shared in the message that are often not included in the notes. Please check out the video at our church website under the “sermons” tab the following Tuesday after the date the message was delivered. Thanks!!}

The most important skill you never learned.

We need to learn to negotiate conflict.

Bob Cook, “God reserves the right to use people who disagree with me.”

Conflict, correctly handled, has tremendous benefits:

Acts 6:7 And the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith. NASB

The truth is that many people will continue to deal with conflict like they have always dealt with conflict and they’ll continue to get what they’ve always gotten and end up in proverbs 19:3

Prov 19:3 A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD. NIV

Failure to deal with it impacts your relationship with God.

Matt 5:23-24 “If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. NASB

If you are married, your prayers will be hindered.

1 Peter 3:7 You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. NASB

Here are ten truths gleaned from 1 Corinthians 1-4 as Paul writes this conflicted church:


1 Cor 1:11 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. NASB

Don’t live in the land of denial.

Ignorance is not bliss. If you ignore a real problem, you are setting yourself up for even greater problems.

Joe Aldridge, in book Secrets to inner Beauty, has a chapter dedicated to married couples.

One of the most cleaver Volkswagen ads shows an impeccable little car with a flat tire. Below it the caption reads – “nobody’s perfect”.

When two imperfect people fall in love strange things happen. Logic and rationality go out the window, blindness sets in. overcome with static paralysis they float away on their cloud built for two. Marriage however has a way of ending this glowing period of simulated perfection. Where two or more are gathered together someone is going to have a flat tire.  It doesn’t take long for the newlyweds to discover that everything in one person nobodies got. They soon learn that a marriage license is just a learner’s permit.  Then they ask in agony, is there life after marriage?

YES, there is a very rich life after your marital vows as long as you deal with conflict in a healthy manner.

Do not think that time will heal it. Time does not heal all things. If it did, you could go to the doctor’s office and simply wait in the waiting room and you’d be healed. Ha.

No! Time can make it worse. Conflict will not resolve itself.

So why don’t we take the initiative? Because we are afraid. This fear began in the Garden of Eden. Adam ran from God. He didn’t run to God. God took the initiative with Adam and Eve.  Why did man run? Because he was afraid. Why? Because facing the conflict would expose our hearts.

If you are afraid of conflict, join the human race! You have to be messed up to enjoy conflict. But if you avoid dealing with an issue because of fear, the matter is going to get worse.

Conflict affects us psychologically and thus physically and will continue to do so until we resolve it.  The “Zeigarnik effect” refers to the brain’s process of keeping unresolved issues under “active” status. Once a task is successfully completed, the brain files it into special memory and it is no longer given priority attention.  By contrast, situations that have not yet been resolved remain active as the brain seeks a solution for closure. This explains why you suddenly remember a name you could not recall two hours earlier, even though you think of it while doing something else – the brain wouldn’t let it go.  More significantly, this dynamic causes broken relationships or personal regret to diffuse our clarity of thought, and contributes to unproductive day-dreaming or restless sleep.  God did not design us to live with unresolved conflict so the very intricacies of our brain remind us of our need to resolve it. From Shoulda Coulda Woulda, Les Parrott

A few practical tips:

Set the right time, place, and tone for the peace summit.

The right TIME.

Timing is everything…

Pick a time when you both are alert. Don’t drop a bomb in bed.

The right PLACE.

Pick a place with privacy and with no interruptions.

The right TONE.

Do not go into it seeking to win. Pray before you meet.

Seek reconciliation not resolution. Reconciliation reestablishes the relationship. But if you want resolution which is resolving all the issues, that probably isn’t going to happen.

We can walk hand in hand without seeing eye to eye on everything.

  1. Define THE ISSUE.

1 Cor 1:12-13 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

What was the issue? Baptism and bragging.

Attack the problem not the person.

Remember that ONE ISSUE can be seen from more than ONE VIEW.

People often think there are two different issues, but they are often one issue looked at from two different perspectives

  1. Own YOUR PART.

1 Cor 1:14-16 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 that no man should say you were baptized in my name. 16 Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. NASB

They may be 98% wrong and you are only 2% wrong, but state your 2%. Now don’t do so by saying, here’s my 2% that I know I did wrong but you have 98% of the blame.

Don’t seek blame, seek reconciliation.

Listen, all of us have our blind spots. Be humble.


1 Cor 1:17-18 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that the cross of Christ should not be made void. 18 For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

The word of the cross

In your marriage, your common ground is that you both desire to honor the Lord Jesus. You both love one another. You both want what is best for your children. You both want a financially secure future.

Keep everything in perspective. Don’t let the issue become the priority

  1. Practice FAMILY TRAITS.

1 Cor 1:26-29 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, 29 that no man should boast before God.

1 Cor 4:7 For who regards you as superior? And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? NASB


Exercise Humility. How? Ask yourself:

Am I being unrealistic, ungrateful, insensitive, or oversensitive?

Listen, you are a member of God’s family. You are to be humble. Humble people don’t expect everyone to be like them. We are all different.

Others oriented

Phil 2:4-5 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. NASB

The word “look” in the greek is where we get the English word Scope. It means to notice. Be a notice.

Andy Andrews wrote a great little book called The Noticer. He has a line in it: “Remember, whatever you focus on increases.”

We are to notice other people. Look out for their interest.

The truth is, we really do think of ourselves most of the time.

Hey try this, The next time you are in a conflict, if you want to diffuse it, say,

I was only thinking of myself.


Prayed over the issue and ponder it. During that process, you may be given a viable solution.

Someone put it this way: “Either way you’re going to pray.”  If you pray before you speak, you will be asking for wisdom about what does or does not need to be said.  If you pray after you speak, you may end up asking God for forgiveness, and/or His supernatural intervention to make your words miraculously disappear.  The fact remains: “Either way you’re going to pray.”  Why not take the wiser route and pray before you speak?

  1. Seek God’s WISDOM.

1 Cor 2:1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God… 5 that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

1 Cor 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

James begins talking about trials. Then he says, “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

The book of Proverbs is awesome. What does wisdom do?

Listen in order to understand – not to respond.

Illustration: pastor tired, son tired too

A pastor was lying in his recliner completely exhausted from preaching twice on Sunday morning and once Sunday night.  His young son wanted him to get up and play with him.  The pastor resisted and said, “You just don’t understand.  Speaking in public is hard work!”  The little boy stood speechless for a moment, and then replied, “Well, listening ain’t easy either.”

Listening ain’t easy. Studies reveal that it takes more energy to listen than to speak.

Pull out these ear plugs:

  • We practice SELECTIVE hearing.

We hear what we want to hear.

  • We practice DEFENSIVE thinking.

We are thinking while they are talking.

  • We practice PERSONALIZED definitions.

We put our definition on words that may not be the definition the other person intended.

James 1:19 But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; NASB

Someone sent me this quote while I was preparing this:

“How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the cause of it.”

Guard your emotions. The goal is not to remove emotions but to bring in healthy emotions.

  1. GROW.

1 Cor 3:1-4 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?

1 c 3:1, 4 (1 c 1:12)

If there is a pattern of conflict in your life, you may be the common denominator.

Problem is immaturity. Self-centeredness…

Only one of us is willing to change…

If we do not grow up in our walk with God we are going to be dominated by every wind that comes around. The emotional tidal wave will assail us and carry us out into the sea. Listen, the people at Corinth were carnal and immature. But they thought they were mature! How do you measure maturity? Look at your love meter! Love is a litmus test for maturity. Love is a choice.

It is my nature to think about myself.


1 Cor 4:5-6 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. 6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other

  1. IMITATE the mature.

1 Cor 4:16 I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me.

  1. Follow up.

1 Cor 4:19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant, but their power.



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