A Problem Of Conflict Resolution

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Introduction

While conflict can be difficult to deal with because it involves change, sometimes it can seem like a threat to the relationships involved. Let me explain briefly. Sometimes an Individual wants to make things work and the other person in conflict says they want the same thing, but only on their terms.

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Although the other person wants it only on their terms, they do not state it verbally, but behaviorally, or they may come to a verbal agreement but do not display the behavior or actions of the agreement. They may even forcefully state their demand upon the other Individual. This is not conflict resolution, it is manipulation, therefore making the conflict unresolvable. This may have a note of behaviorism, which is a theoretical approach that seeks to explain behavior in terms of learning principles, but without reference to inner states, thoughts, or feelings of the person who does want to work cooperatively and even in the one who just wants to work everything together for the good. (Baumeister & Bushman)

In other words, it is as James 4:1 states: What is causing all the quarrels and fights among you? Isn’t it your desires battling inside you? (Complete Jewish Bible, Stern) While many different avenues could be approached, and addressed such as Parental Alienation, PTSD, normal family conflict, and many others, I want to direct our attention to a man of whom it is said, his life (book) is about the suffering of men, although it was really a conflict within Job and between Job and God. The conflict, I believe we’ll discover was not a misunderstanding, nor coming to an understanding, but rather an understanding that it is normal to not understand (at times), but to trust and for God to reveal more of Himself, not only to those who hear, but who will look. Nagy, and Wolf outline a good source of possible strategies which may also become visible in the life of Job and his confrontations even with God.

Body

In the normal course of life, When a dispute arises, often the best course of action is negotiation to resolve the disagreement. (Nagy, Wolf) The goals of negotiation are: To produce a solution that all parties can agree to: To work as quickly as possible to find this solution: To improve, not hurt, the relationship between the groups in conflict. (Nagy, Wolf) These were all evident, or became evident in the struggle of Job.

Conflict is often from a perceived disparity between at least two individuals, however, at times within the person themselves which may become the causation for an individuals’ behavior socially toward another or their own mental dilemma rooted within. Sometimes it is a misunderstanding of wrestling not against flesh and blood, but which the visible is the flesh and blood one is dealing with. How do we differentiate between the spirit and the person while yet forgiving the person without forgiving the thing we are wrestling with in that person or ourselves? The apostle Paul, in Romans 7 describes the inner human conflict, but also the resolution if the person will accept the resolution, while James describes the causation of the conflict. Jobs causation, however, was the way God (performed) was before Job’s trial and the way it seemed God (alienated) did not act on his behalf, or even acted against Job, as Job accused.

In astounding, and probably unrealized agreement, Baumeister & Bushman state, Interpersonally, if your inconsistent behaviors affect others, you may suffer social rejection and ostracism. (Baumeister & Bushman) However, you should not feel obligated to behave consistently with a commitment that you were tricked into making. If it is not clear whether you were tricked into making a commitment, ask yourself this question: Knowing what I know now, if I could go back in time, would I make the same commitment? (pg 266) In other words, if you did not know you were deceived by the old nature but now am made aware of the resolution, you have a choice. Within this framework is a basis of conflict which requires resolution. Jobs situation was allowed by God. While it may appear to some (not to Job) that God tricked Job, he obviously would have made the same commitment. Job did not curse God and die, as suggested by his wife. Baumeister & Bushman go on to say, If the answer is yes, behave consistently with the commitment. If the answer is no, don’t do it! (pg 266 Baumeister & Bushman) To whom or what is your commitment to freedom or slavery, God, or self?

Job was engulfed in conflict resolution, but mostly within and his three friends did not help. Job may have even been angry to some extent. God said he was blameless, Job knew he served God, and loved others, but his three friends kept him in conflict and Job wondered before God why and what is going on. Job was then confronted by a youth after Jobs three friends could not win an argument with Job, nor convince him of any wrongdoing. Remember, Job was blameless. Elihu said (with disgust) to all three friends of Job, I will not answer Job with your arguments and then let Job have it. We do not see anywhere that Job retaliated as he had with his three friends. We do see God interrupt Elihu to confront Job. When all was said and done, Job put his hand over his mouth, confessed, and repented before God restored his life. God even told Job to pray for his three friends (not including Elihu) because THEY did not speak right of God. What is it Job confessed though if he was blameless. Job said, Yes, I spoke, without understanding, of wonders far beyond me, which I didn’t know. (Job 42:3, CJB) There is another reality Job recognized that brought resolution, or clarity to him in his conflict of which he sought resolution. It is found in Job 42:5, and it says, I had heard about you with my ears (faith comes by hearing the word of God), but now my eye sees you. (CJB) That was even before God restored everything x 2 to Job!

Conflict resolution through negotiation can be good for all parties involved. Often, each side will get more by participating in negotiations than they would by walking away, and it can be a way for your group to get resources that might otherwise be out of reach. (Nagy, Wolf) Job experienced resolution through this conflict because he did not walk away, nor did he take his wife’s advice, and though Job is the oldest book in the Bible, and probably the most desired if all other writings were lost, he still may have understood what Isaiah wrote in 1:18. That is the ultimate negotiation of God, the source of resolutions, and how Job was to get resources that might otherwise be out of reach. (Nagy, Wolf) Conflict resolution often speaks as having one in opposition to another, however, it also speaks of legitimate requests or expectations. Jobs three friends were obviously not legitimate accusations, but Elihu’s response was.

We see four things at work in a situation in which there was conflict that found resolution. These four things may guide us in our own inner wrestle as well as our struggles with others. Those four things are stated as:

  1. I want it my way (unwilling to change or accept that change must occur. i.e. repentance)
  2. I have faith because I’ve heard about you (the point of faith is that after, you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise)
  3. I don’t understand and sometimes I don’t need to
  4. BUT now my eye sees You. (Coming face to face with the One you really have an issue with)

When we settle these four and come to the place of Job, even Christ, we may more assuredly walk out the many conflicts, yet with the understanding, in your anger do not sin. Apparently, Job did not. He just did not understand what was going on, before, during, and after. He just saw God and understood he did not understand, but God does. The conflict was quieted, not when God confronted him, but when he saw God, repented, and put his hand over his own mouth.

Although God speaks of anger as something to not let linger, nor does it resolve anything, Baumeister & Bushman say, Anger may therefore actually reduce aggression, compared to what the world would be like if people went directly into aggressive action as soon as they experienced conflict or frustration, which would say anger may be an avenue to resolution. (pg 200) Though we do not see the possible anger of Job, we do see his taunts toward his friends. Imagine if his friends responded in anger, assuming Job must have committed a crime against God. Job would have surely been put out of his misery and everyone else.

Conclusion

But how does this equate to living in the world and working with those who are slaves and those who claim to not be, yet obviously are using grace instead of repentance as their excuse to remain where they are? Grace gives favor to overcome, but learning the principles of repentance gives power, vision, and authority to be an overcomer. Repentance is effectively the hand that can grasp, and Grace is the glove that covers and is necessary to protect and comfort. We may also use the learning principles of forgiveness to not only offer grace to ourselves and others but walk in a humility and standard of repentance. The causation of most of our conflict is within our commitment to understand that not only is God not always understandable, but neither are we. However, resolution to the conflict is found with God, not in negotiating terms, but accepting His. Simply put, it is not the presence of conflict that stresses the relationship; it is the way one responds. (Berger) The resolution is not found without conflict, so both are necessary although not necessarily considered good to our emotions. Understanding that we do not need to understand, while still working through conflict, is able to bring resolution sometimes, all by itself within a person.

Work Cited

  1. Baumeister, R.F., & Bushman, B.J. (2017) Social psychology and human nature (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage.
  2. Berger, Marcia Naomi. Do Unresolvable Conflicts Doom a Marriage? PschCentral, World of Psychology, 2015, psychcentral.com/blog/do-unresolvable-conflicts-doom-a-marriage/.
  3. Stern, David. The Complete Jewish Bible. Clarksville: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1998. Print.
  4. Wolf, Rebecca, and Jenette Nagy. Section 6. Training for Conflict Resolution. Community Tool Box, University of Kansas, ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/implement/provide-information-enhance-skills/conflict-resolution/main.

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