The first major lesson I have learnt when it comes to conflict is that it all starts with me. One of the most frustrating situations I have had in the past couple of years is when I have put off speaking to someone only for that person to come and speak to me! Often about similar things to what I wanted to speak to them about! How dare they have the nerve! How dare they get in before I could! Why can I be more like that?
The sobering thought is that in each of those situations the other person was right, I had been in the wrong and I needed to hear it.
Matthew 7:3-5 ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.’
If we can be people who act and walk humbly then speaking and receiving truth will be easier. Often the verse above is used as an excuse to not talk to people – ‘I couldn’t possibly do that when I am such a hypocrite!’ But if we take this stance then how will we ever bring honesty into our relationships given that we will never reach perfection?
In general I find it safe to assume that if I have a beef with someone I am not entirely innocent. Now this may not be something I have deliberately done, it may be anothers misunderstanding of something I have said or done, but the fact remains that I may have upset them or put their nose out of joint. Given this I find it better to start humbly and apologise for anything I may have done that caused offence. This becomes part of me addressing the planks in my own eyes, and when another person sees this they can see that at the very least I am working on my flaws, and hopefully this will make them more favourable to hearing what I then have to say.
Of course this is very general and can go wrong but at least you have done your best, and notice that the reason we remove our planks is to help others with their own vision impediments!