"'In your anger, do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." Ephesians 4:26-27
Picture this: As classes careen toward finals, students with heavy backpacks hunch over every desk and table on campus—including your favorite study carrel in the library. You're averaging about four hours of sleep and five cups of coffee per day. Your head is bursting with new knowledge; your dorm room is bursting with laundry bags and pizza boxes. Oh, and you might be coming down with a cold.
Sound like a formula for a short temper? It sure can be. And while not all conflicts can be avoided, a Christian attitude can keep minor tiffs from turning into major tempests. It can bring peace to some of the most difficult situations. The following questions and Scripture passages will help you manage conflict God's way.
Do it now
If your best friend blows off your dinner date or your roommate neglects his share of the chores, it's natural to get annoyed. But getting annoyed and staying that way are two different things.
See Genesis 13:7-8 and Proverbs 29:22.
If you're feeling miffed, first you need to figure out what it was that bothered you so much. Is it something you should just try to get over, or is it worth bringing up with the person who upset you? If it's worth bringing up, what are you waiting for? Now is the very best time to make things right. Putting it off can only make the situation worse.
Do it kindly
Though they may accurately express how you feel, harsh words and a raised voice will never ease a conflict. Neither will the opposite extreme—a total communication shut-down. Calm, cool, collected and kind is the only way to go.
See 1 Corinthians 16:14, Colossians 4:6 and 2 Timothy 2:22-24.
If you're looking to defuse the situation, not drop the bomb, here are some questions to consider: What would be the best time and place to discuss what's bugging you? What affirmations can you offer to let the other person know you care? Are you willing to admit you might be at fault, too?
Do it right
You don't have to go to a conflict resolution seminar to see how it should be done. Jesus lays down the basic model, and Paul helps out with an attitude check.
See Matthew 18:15-16 and Philippians 2:1-4.
Have you approached the person who hurt you using the Matthew 18 model? Are you considering his or her interests as well as your own? Are you making every effort to live at peace? If so, then you've done the best you can. This "system" won't always work wonders, but God can. Any conflicts that just won't go away can be offered to him in prayer.