Conflict: Growth Opportunity
By Pastor Mikel
I have noticed that our society is conflict adverse. If we have the opportunity to sweep it under the carpet, we will. Conflict is an area I have always been interested in. I have studied conflict in Northern Ireland, Israel, Ukraine and Kenya. If I am honest with myself, it is probably because I wanted to learn how to deal with conflict for myself, and travelling the world was a brilliant excuse. Recent research has shown that the current young generation does not know how to deal with conflict. This inability to deal with conflict in a healthy way can germinate into a breakdown when they leave the home. Today’s youth and young adults are currently the most medicated in history for anxiety and depression. I can attest to this reality in Summerland.
We need to change how we are dealing with conflict. We need to consider it as an opportunity to grow rather than avoid it. My views on conflict have changed. Rather than ignore and avoid – I want to embrace it so that I and the other person can grow and mature through it. I know I am not perfect, and I know I will annoy or do something foolish in the future that will require reconciliation. I know I am not the only one with this unique skill. But I want to encourage parents to help their children to walk through conflict so that they can grow and learn from it. Do not rescue them. Do not allow them to avoid it. Encouraging conflict avoidance is creating a future of dysfunctional relationships. When we walk through conflict, we need to seek the attitude that Jesus suggests in John 20:23; “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?” (The Message). What a powerful question! If you do not forgive, what are you going to do? We hold on to offense way too long; to the point where it affects even our health. Rather than holding on to old wounds, we need to enter conflict with a heart that seeks reconciliation and forgiveness and with enough humility to learn and be changed by the process. It has often been my experience that walking through conflict has allowed the Holy Spirit to highlight areas of my life that needed transformation. I can look at past conflicts and be grateful for what Jesus has taught me. Avoiding conflict can mean missing out on an opportunity to accelerate our growth in faith. We are incredible works in progress and God can use conflict in our lives to shape us and others. Choose to walk through conflict and witness what God grows in you through that process.