I’ve had every kind of conflict you can have in business.
- business partners that didn’t like when I started putting God first in my business
- industry colleagues replying to my emails with angry comments because I mention God in my marketing
- employees mad because I didn’t want to do business in the nightlife anymore
- clients screaming at me over a delayed project
- prospects yell at me to stop calling and emailing them
- competitors write insults because of my style of business
- family lash out at me because of my convictions and beliefs in business
And how did I handle the conflict?
Well, before knowing God, I was fighting right back – tooth for tooth, eye for an eye. If you yelled at me, I yelled again louder. If you wrote me a nasty email, I was writing one back nastier and longer. If you insulted me, I’m going to double down and ridicule you even more.
That was easy. It felt natural. It felt good. It felt right to get my vengeance. It felt justified to right my wrongs.
But I’ll be the first to admit that my conflicts with people never got resolved. Things would get worst. The relationships would keep deteriorating. And although things would eventually calm down, when the conflict surfaced again, it was World War 2…3….4…and 5. I never stopped.
The Irony of Conflict
See, we all going to have conflict in entrepreneurship. Those of us starting businesses have a lot on the line. Our entire identity, self-worth, and the source of our income are on the line. We want to defend that at all costs.
We’re also extra passionate about our products and services because we feel they are the best thing since sliced bread. That passion can cause us to be extra emotional, which could lead us to more conflict.
But this isn’t a lesson on removing conflict. Contrary to what we might think, conflict is the essence of entrepreneurship. Conflict is also the essence of our Christian walk.
In the most famous preaching ever given on the planet, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount lays out the eight beatitudes, which are qualities of the people that enjoy special favor from God. I believe these qualities are the keys to unlocking the next levels of achievements in our businesses.
The seventh beatitude is why we live in a more peaceful world today than ever before.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
(Matthew 5:9 NIV)
If Jesus is saying that blessed are the peacemakers, and if he needed to mention it as one of the 8 keys to the holy life, then it’s clear to see that conflict is a part of life, and making peace is a necessary step in our Christian walk and thus a key to achieving greatness in business.
Your Calling to Peacemaking
You’re being called into the task of conflict resolution, not conflict escalation (like what I used to do). You, too, are going to have differences in opinions. People are going to harm you. And your instinct will be to fight fire with fire, but in God’s business book, it is a blessing to bring people together who conflict.
Of course, easier said than done. Jesus’ 8 beatitudes all build on each other, therefore making the last ones dependent on the first ones. This means you have to make strides in those areas before this one.
To restore right relationships (conflict resolution), you have to bring in all of the beatitudes: mourning and repentance for sin, mercy and forgiveness, meekness, dedication to the truth, and hunger for righteousness. It is through God’s grace that you have access to these characteristics so you can become a conflict resolution professional!
When we can become conflict resolvers, and oppose our instinct to fight, the result is peace, and peacemakers will do the highest level of ministry in the marketplace – we will be “Children of God” in our industries.
As a peacemaker, you reflect the divine character of God through your actions, through your products and services, and your leadership influence. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the culmination of greatness and success in business!
We need to seek to make peace in the office, online, in meetings, and the whole of our business interactions.
Becoming a Conflict-Resolving Entrepreneur
A major mindset shift is that we need to be willing to listen carefully to opinions different from ours and respond out of love instead of anger or defensiveness. When someone is arguing or fighting with us, it’s because they have an emotional difference than we do.
Responding in love to someone’s emotions may include extending for or asking for forgiveness, changing our behavior, repairing a wrong, or even making efforts to change a toxic situation in the office.
Look, there’s no easy way around this. It’s arguably the hardest of the beatitudes to conquer, which makes it the most difficult step to achieving greatness in business.
One of the most important business skills that we have to learn is conflict resolution. If we don’t, we’re going to spend a lot of our business life miserable, because we’re imperfect people doing business in an imperfect marketplace with other imperfect people. We have conflict almost every day of our business life.
If we want to resolve conflict in business, we’re going to have to be bigger Christians and make the first move. This means we’re going to need God’s help, because it’s going to take every ounce of energy for us to do the opposite of what our flesh wants to do, and approach a partner, client, or employee we’re are in conflict with and tell that person we want to sit down and work it out.
Imagine if we all asked God if there were opportunities for us to play a role in establishing the peace of God’s kingdom here on earth through our businesses.
A Prayer for Becoming a Conflict Resolver
Father, help us to see where there is conflict or hurt in our businesses, and show us how we can be an instrument of Your peace so we can lead blessed businesses that achieve greatness in Your name, for Your glory! Amen.