rebelling against low expectations

I Hate Conflict


For the most part I hate conflict. When someone disagrees with me (especially someone I don’t know well), I withdraw and I don’t respond. When someone is in error, often I don’t correct them. For goodness sake, if McDonald’s gives me cold french fries I won’t even return them!

Yet others swing too far on the other side of the conflict pendulum — instead of hating conflict, they love it. Instead of avoiding it, they will constantly pursue it, even to their detriment.

Both of these approaches are wrong. As Christians living in a hostile world, whether we like it or not, conflict is inevitable. And so as much as the phrase has been abused, I think “happy medium” applies here, or at least a healthy balance. Because for the Christian there is a time and a place and a way for engaging in conflict to the glory of God.

So as a Christian who admittedly has not dealt well with conflict in the past, here are a few reflections:

When you should NOT engage in conflict:

1. When you will never win. We all know those people who you will never win against – even if you’re not having an argument! These are the people who are sadly selfish and who are motivated by self-interest rather than God’s glory. They purposely pursue conflict, or at least deal unhealthily with it. They have no intention of discussion or debate; they are always right, no matter what. And engaging in conflict with them is pointless and frustrating.

2. When it’s not a cause worth fighting for. If Dad casually mentions that Monday was a rainy day, but I am sure that Monday was blue and sunny, I do not need to engage him in conflict. There is no point in starting a debate about something perfectly pointless.

3. When your purpose is unclear. Do not engage in conflict merely for the sake of engaging in conflict. When you are unsure whether your purpose is to reflect God’s glory or to satisfy your need to be right, it’s better to avoid conflict.

When you SHOULD engage in conflict:

1. When you are encouraged to. If you have a friend who’s looking for healthy debate, join in! I was recently part of a book discussion where you were encouraged to comment on and engage with others’ reflections on the book. As I read one person’s reflection, I realized that I disagreed strongly with what he was saying. He encouraged debate, though, and so I attempted to graciously engage him. What resulted was an amiable discussion where both of us came away in disagreement but with no bad feelings.

2. When someone you love is in serious error. The emphasis is on “someone you love.” Lots and lots of people out there are in error. Sift through the articles that Google finds for you and I assure you that you’ll find much error. Our responsibility is not to correct every single person out there, but those that we know and care about. If one of my friends was going to do something that I knew would be horribly detrimental to her, I would have to engage her conflict, because I love her and I wouldn’t want her to hurt.

3. When it’s a cause worth fighting for. Some things are worth engaging in conflict for, namely, the gospel. There are times when it will be uncomfortable and awkward, but the gospel is always, always worth conflict. This does not mean we pursue conflict under the guise of the gospel, but that we pursue Christ and if conflict arises, so be it. We do not hide ashamed of the gospel, but for the glory of God we deal with conflict because of it graciously, humbly, and firmly.

Though it may be weird and sometimes unpleasant, there is a time and a place for Christians to engage in conflict. And we have a responsibility to do it for the glory of God.

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Photo courtesy of Yogesh Kumar Jaiswal and Flickr Creative Commons.

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About the author

Jaquelle Crowe Ferris

is the former editor-in-chief of The Rebelution and author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years (Crossway). She's the co-founder of The Young Writers Workshop and hosts a podcast for youth called Age of Minority. She's married to Joe and lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.


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  • Yeah. I second that thing about when the other person thinks they are always right and aren’t interested in the truth, just something to justify their view. Rachel, Liam, and I encountered someone like that a few months ago when commenting on one of the past articles. That’s why we stopped the debate and Brett closed the comment thread. Thank you so much for this reminder. Once again, another great article. God bless!


    • Funny, as I was reading this article, that was what i was thinking about, Trent…

      Jaquelle, you do such an amazing job with all these articles! I really love hearing your point of view!!! You have the gift of writing!!

      • Hey Rachel! Thank you for your kind words. I have been in those same kinds of situations as you and Trent and Liam, where the conflict is pointless and can get hurtful. Good for you for knowing how to respond! That’s always the tricky part for me.

        Your encouragement is so sweet! Blessings to you!

  • Oh, yeah. People need to think about when to fight and when not to a lot more than they do. Thanks for this!

  • Thank you for your article!
    I too hate conflict with a passion. I’ve always feared with that hatred of conflict that I won’t be able to stand up for myself or for God in the way that I should, and I would end up making things worse off. You’ve inspired me to look at conflict through the lens of the Gospel. And I thank you for that.

    • You’re welcome, Zack, but thank you for your honesty. Sometimes it’s comforting to know that we’re not alone in our struggles, that as Christians we share the same downfalls. My apprehensiveness of conflict is something that I still struggle with (and more often than I would like) but the gospel is the thing that anchors me. And praise God for that. 🙂

  • I need to remember this when my brother wants to debate something that doesn’t really matter, and with Dad when he says something I don’t think is correct but doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. 🙂

  • Oh my, I totally agree :). I’m sorry about an incident where I could have spoken up and I wish that I had. My one friend was being attacked verbally one day in a slightly joking manner but I knew it partially wasn’t in jokeing. Ive brewed over it and have learned what to do next time; now I won’t miss the chance to speak up and defend my friends! Thank you for this.

  • Thanks so much for this reminder. Living in a big family means that when someone starts a debate or “argument,” it could grow much larger and hurt other’s feelings. This is something I definitely relate to!!! Thanks again!

  • That’s pretty good. I tend to lean on the side of peace and love and not conflict with anyone, then other times or things I really don’t. Like gun rights for instance. Or the IS. I think there are some things we should really fight for. Excellent article thanx!

  • This is really cool. I avoid fights with family (most of the time) but not when it comes to defending my faith. This has given me something to think about. Thanks.

  • My problem is, I keep finding myself caught in the middle of debates everywhere- YouTube comments, other blogs, even a few online social video games. I’ll make a comment about God, someone will make a snide comment back, I’ll try and smooth it over, they end up thinking Christians are weak and don’t even know enough about their religion to give correction. Or other times, I’ll come across some atheist pushing around another Christian, and the Christian makes bad points and sounds like a little kid in their debating skills. Do I step in and help them before they make a complete fool of themselves and lose their own faith, while boosting the atheist’s pride? Or do I try and end it before it gets too bad?

rebelling against low expectations

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