Wildfire spreads fast.
Relationships can go up in flames in a heartbeat.
Ever get burned by relational conflict? It spreads like wildfire. The longer it goes unchecked, the more difficult it is to stop. Use these 10 steps to douse the flames, and you’ll save numerous relationships throughout your lifetime.
1) Stop it before it starts. Sometimes all it takes is a spark to ignite a raging fire. Put the matches away.
“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.”(Proverbs 17:14 NIV)
See also: (Proverbs 20:3 NIV) (2 Timothy 2:22-25 NIV)
2) Mind your own business. Seriously, if the conversation isn’t directed to you, butt out of it.
“Interfering in someone else’s argument is as foolish as yanking a dog’s ears.” (Proverbs 26:17 NLT)
This used to be common sense. With the advent of facebook, it’s gone right out the window. If you like getting bit, then by all means, yank on that dog’s ears. But if you’re tired of bleeding, leave that dog alone.
3) Don’t make a bad situation worse.
“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 NIV)
Being angry isn’t necessarily a sin. Sometimes anger is appropriate, even good. But when you do something stupid and hurtful because you’re angry, you’ve just thrown gasoline on the fire. Get ready for a flare-up. Try taking a step back before something stupid and explosive comes out of your mouth.
4) Deal with the source of the problem.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.” (James 4:1-2 NIV)
At root, our relational problems are spiritual problems. The heart is where things get goofed up. Knowing that empowers us to do something about it. Now you can go to God, ask Him to change your heart, and start covering some ground. If you don’t like what’s in your heart, ask Him to begin the process of transforming you.
5) Root out the Resentment. Unless you like being bitter, this is a necessary step.
“Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple.” (Job 5:2 NIV)
Resentment is focused, sustained anger. It’s acidic, and left unchecked, will corrode away and hollow out a heart. This is the perfect example of something we need supernatural help to change. God can change our perspective, help us gain resolution, and even forgive those who have hurt us. Ask Him to root out the resentment. You’ll breathe easier soon.
6) Lose the Pride. The world does not revolve around you. (Shocking, right?)
“Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” (Proverbs 13:10 NIV) See also: (Proverbs 16:18 NIV) (James 4:6 ESV)
Humility, the opposite of pride, is not thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less. Give it a try.
7) Stop caring about what others think.
“The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” (Proverbs 29:25 The Message)
I’m not saying to ignore all others. Just don’t build your life around others’ opinions of you. Care more about what God thinks. Otherwise, you’ll never be satisfied.
8) Prioritize others. It may seem risky, but isn’t this just how Jesus acted?
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4 NKJV)
9) Learn how to get along.
“Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement.” (Philippians 4:2 NLT)
Not every relationship you have is going to be pleasant, easy and natural. Some people’s personalities grate against your every nerve. Don’t worry. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re not everybody’s cup of tea either. No one is. Not everyone has to be your best friend, but you do have to learn how to play nice. Welcome to adulthood. Figure it out.
10) Reverse the flow. Change today will reap benefits tomorrow.
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8 NIV)
The sooner you change the content of what you’re building into your relationships, the sooner you’ll enjoy the increased peace that results. Keep yourself in check, and go back to step 1 whenever you’re tempted to ignite another fire.
BONUS: Overwhelmed? Count on God’s help when you take steps to heal and preserve relationships.
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus.”
(Romans 15:5 NIV)
Some more thoughts on relationships:
(10 Ways to Keep a Conflict Going)
(Pull the Plug: When You Should Kill a Relationship)
(Relationships Require Risk)