When it comes to interpersonal conflict, what is fair?
Fairness includes straight paths. Solomon taught emerging leaders: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Solomon also passed along his father’s advice, saying, “I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths” (Proverbs 4:11). “Straight” is translated from the same root as “equity,” pointing toward what is fair. That root can be interpreted “smooth,” or evenly applied, a reference to the fashioning of metal.
Typically, in the course of interpersonal conflict in our lives, we do not evenly apply risk and return between ourselves and the other person involved. Risk is the potential for loss. Return is the gift, gain, or reward. When relational tension arises, we often pile up risk on the other party while we attempt to retain all of the return ourselves. Consequently, our paths become crooked, uneven, or full of greed.
Wisdom’s tool for evening our paths is “equity” which begins by placing the possibility for risk into God’s hands. The antithesis of equity is trusting in our own fallen understanding which minimizes our relational risk, or vulnerability, in a false attempt to maximize our egocentric return.
When encountering conflict with your coworker, spouse, children, parents, or friends, place the risk in God’s hands. Trust in Him, and He will make your paths straight.
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