Learn How To Walk Another’s Trail In Conflict
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1
When Jo Shetler moved to a rural area of the Philippines, she discovered that her new neighbors had a beautiful technique for resolving conflicts. Jo was a teacher and she was distressed when someone else came to town trying to teach a conflicting curriculum. She wanted to address the other teacher, but one of her Filipino friends told her frankly, “Jo, you don’t know how to discuss things with others.” So Jo asked her friend to teach her the way.
“First, you must listen,” began her friend. “Walk along with the other person on his trail and affirm every point you can, demonstrating to him that you understand him. Then, when he’s no longer threatened, and he realizes you understand his argument, take him by the hand and lead him where you want him to go.”
When we decide to genuinely listen, we avoid misunderstanding between ourselves and someone we’re in conflict with. We’re in a position to find common ground to build trust on. Finally, resolving conflict requires presence. When you “take someone by the hand,” it implies that you’re going with them in the direction that you want them to go. As the Apostle Paul put it, “restore them gently” and “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). This makes it harder to turn those we’re in conflict with into enemies.
The next time you feel threatened by someone else or their ideas, try walking the other person’s trail with them… and listen!
Resource reading: Galatians 6:1-10
 Shetler, Joanne. And The Word Came with Power. Multnomah Books, January 1, 1992.