There comes a point in every conflict when you have to decide what your next move will be. You can choose to resolve it or to transform it. Conflict Resolution is the process of alleviating or eliminating your issues by any means necessary. When you resolve an issue, you take immediate action to stop the discomfort.
On the other hand, Conflict Transformation is the intentional act of analyzing a problem with the expected outcome of fully understanding all of its working parts. When you make a choice to transform, you are looking for opportunities of growth.
So what will it be for you? Resolution or Transformation?
Are you at a point in your life where you don’t understand why situations played themselves out like they did? Maybe you are seeking clarity in a tough decision or expecting validation from someone you love. Whatever it is for you, has it become painfully obvious that a change is necessary? Are you on the cusp of peace but surrounded in conflict and unsure which way you should go?
In the Book of Acts, the jailer who was watching over Paul and Silas found himself in a troubling predicament. As he slept, there was a violent earthquake and the doors of the jail flung open. This jailer was prepared to take his own life because he thought all the prisoners had escaped. In his crisis moment, he could only think of a short-term solution.
In The Little Book of Conflict Transformation, John Paul Lederach, gives us several practical points to consider that will help us develop a deeper capacity for transforming our conflicts.
- Develop a capacity to see presenting issues as a window: A transformational approach requires that we develop a capacity to see the immediate situation without being overwhelmed. We have to avoid the urgency to resolve and develop the ability to see beyond the present issue.
- Develop a capacity to integrate multiple time frames: We have to think and act without being bound by the constraints of a short-term view of time. Instead of constantly working in crisis mode, we can become more intentional in our actions by developing strategies and processes with different views of time (short-term and long-term) that allow us to create a more peaceful existence.
- Develop the capacity to pose the energies of conflict as dilemmas: Oftentimes we experience multiple conflicts all at once and it becomes necessary to simultaneously deal with them. We have to develop language and dialogue that is all-inclusive. We have to find ways to develop a deeper desire for peace in the midst of our trouble.
Paul and Silas understood the greater purpose that was at work and they spoke out and said, “do not harm yourself, we are here. Because of their willingness to transform the conflict, multiple dilemmas were resolved.
- The Jailer and his family found Jesus and were saved.
- Paul and Silas did not have to compromise their beliefs. They continued worshipping God in freedom and in captivity.
- God’s word stood firm all on its own. Paul and Silas didn’t have to craft an escape plan simply because the doors flew open. They understood there was greater work to be performed.
Peace and Wellness,