Bobby Keating asked:
(c) 2008 The Christian Success Institute
When things get out of our control, danger lurks in the sidelines. Each of us has had situation occur where we seemed to have been tossed into the middle of a trial of which we had no control – a trial by fire.
In Proverbs 17:3 Solomon teaches “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.” This, of course is allusion to the method that a goldsmith or silversmith uses to purify gold or silver ore.
I watched a goldsmith take a small pot filled with what looked to me like dirt and small rocks. He told me that this was gold ore. To me it didn’t look like the gold that I was accustomed to seeing. It was in its natural state, filled with impurities. He proceeded to put the ceramic looking pot over a small blast furnace and turned up the heat. As the mixture melted, the impurities burned away leaving only the molten gold behind.
The goldsmith told me that at this point it was critical to keep a close eye on the molten gold. If left in the extreme heat too long, the gold would also burn up. I asked him how he knew when the mixture was ready. He told me something very profound. He told me that he looks at the top of the molten gold and when he could see his reflection in it, it was finished.
From this Proverb we can see that Solomon wants us to realize that we too are like the gold ore or silver ore. In our natural state there are layers and layers of impurities. God will allow adversities and conflicts, trial and tribulations in our lives to provide the necessary heat to burn away the impurities leaving the beautiful and very valuable character that He wants for us. He knows when we are ready to use when He can see His reflection in us.
One of the impurities that God wants to ‘burn’ out of us is our natural self-centered point of view. This egocentric point of view is the cause of much contention in our lives and so often the substance that fuels a heated exchange. It is our nature to want to convince our opponent that our point of view is the correct one. We feel that the only way to win and argument is to convince our opponent that we are right, for them to agree with us and to do what we want them to do. Usually, with two egocentric individuals, there is no winner. The true definition of winning is to achieve the very best possible outcome.
All of the principles or keys that Solomon gives us in his Proverbs (as well as his other writing) are essential for our path to success. You may wonder why at this point we are discussing the resolution of conflicts. You will find that, no matter what your goal is, business or personal, there will always arise an opposing opinion. Here we will abandon the idea that winning is ‘getting my way’ or convincing someone that I am right. The skills that we are going to discuss are key factors in our winning the situation (attaining the result that is best for all.)
We can categorize conflicts as hurtful or informative. When we are engaged in a conflict, whether we started it or are simply responding to something that someone else started. Keep your eyes and ears open. The moment that you suspect that the situation is degenerating into nothing more than attempting to injure your opponent or him injuring you, you must force yourself to control your thoughts and words. You must change the focus to achieving the best possible outcome for everyone involved.
Let’s take a look at 5 situations that spawn conflicts and adversities.
1. One of the surest ways of getting into a conflict is when we meddle in the business of others. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 26:17 (NKJV) “He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears.” It is natural try to help others when they are engaged in an argument. Each, however, will try to get you to agree with him. If you take sides, as Solomon points out, you are the one who will be bitten. It is good to help mediate but it is best when both parties come to you for wise counsel.
2. Most arguments are not planned affairs. They happen on impulse. Solomon gives us good advice in Proverbs 25:8 (The Amplified Bible) “Rush not forth soon to quarrel [before magistrates or elsewhere], lest you know not what to do in the end when your neighbor has put you to shame.” When you see this happening, take Solomon’s advice and just don’t do it.
3. Harsh words are generally a good way to ‘push someone’s buttons’ and usually the best way to start an argument or escalate one. Proverbs 15:1 (NLT) “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”
4. Anger is an excellent fuel for an argument. Often a person who is angry because of a totally unrelated issue will begin or react to an argument. Proverbs 15:18 (NKJV) “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.” Too often is the case that someone who is angry with another at work will bring his temper home and begin arguing with his or her spouse or children and vice versa. I have seen the results of someone who has had an argument with his wife bring the same attitude to work. It’s not a pretty site.
5. When you are confronted with a situation that could be construed as an argument or conflict, ask yourself what is the instigating factor. More often than not the situation will usually arise because of pride or arrogance.
Is your involvement in the argument motivated by your pride or an attack on your ego? If it is, and Solomon says that it’s the Number 1 cause (Pride), you need to talk it over with someone before you engage your opponent. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 13:10 (The Amplified Bible) “By pride and insolence comes only contention, but with the well-advised is skillful and godly Wisdom.”
Conflicts and arguments have very few good results. When we see that Solomon considers this to be foolishness, we can understand that these situations can be avoided and should be.
There is nothing wrong with a lively discussion or debate. You usually take time to prepare for these. In that preparation it is always wise to seek wise counsel.
It is also very important for the successful Christian (diligent student of God’s Word) to be adept at mediating. Preventing arguments and conflicts from escalating into an all out war is a necessary skill for anyone who is seeking success.
You’ll find that this skill will be very handy in helping you on the road to success. Becoming a conflict resolver build trust in others and elevates your position in the eyes and hearts of others.