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Dear COA Family,

We all experience inter-personal conflicts in our lives. According to the Harvard University, there are three types of conflicts. They are task conflicts, relationship conflicts and value conflicts. Task conflicts refer to specific differences over work matters – like the different roles of members within a team. Relationship conflicts arise from differences in personality, style or matters of taste. These are more friendship based and not based on responsibilities of work. Lastly there are value conflicts. They come from differences in politics, religion, ethics, norms, and other deeply held beliefs. These may be more deep seated in nature and therefore more difficult to resolve.

It is important to know the types of conflicts you have so that you know how to resolve them. For example, if you are in a project work team and are arguing with each other over the roles and responsibilities, this is a task conflict. It is helpful to engage in collaborative discussions in such cases so that everyone in the team can come to common understanding and accept their roles within it.

Yet the bible reveals to us what is the root cause of our conflicts. James 4:1-2 says,

“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.”

All conflicts ultimately arise from our own self-centred desires for our selfish benefit. We are concerned for our welfare above the needs of others. We ensure that we are recognised for our efforts in the success of our work while ignoring the contributions of others. We want our way while minimizing the desires of others.

Beloved, a very important step in resolving conflicts is to be willing to recognize that we ourselves are the cause of much of them. We place the blame on others when our expectations are not met. We fail to appreciate the good that others have done.

Therefore, James also tells us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (1:19). This is the formula for prevention of conflicts. It takes effort on our part to listen actively to others, to refrain from responding in trying to justify ourselves and to not be easily provoked. In other words, it is growing in the fruit of self-control – by restraining ourselves from reacting in a fleshly manner.

When we submit to the Holy Spirit’s leading in our lives to deal with our own selfish natures first, we will save ourselves from getting into conflicts with others. Instead, we will grow in our friendships and relationships with others, and help our families and the church grow together as well.

God bless,

Revd Ian