The Lord Jesus once told the Nephites: “And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been. For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger one with another,” (3 Nephi 11, 28-29).
I feel that for some members of the Church this message is interpreted as, “You should not have any conflict in your life whatsoever.” However, they fail to understand the value of conflict in life and the growth that it brings us as individuals.
Conflict should be sought after, due simply to the fact that it helps us gain experience and strengthen our relationships.
It is safer to avoid confrontation than to work through a solution. However, playing it safe rarely leads to growth.
Some of the most memorable conflicts I’ve had was with one of my best friends in New Mexico. We argued once about an individual — whether he was a decent guy or a selfish one. We discussed our observations about the individual and learned how we both nitpick at certain behaviors more than others. Our perspectives were broadened by the experience of how we both viewed the world and people.
Probably the greatest reward from seeking conflict is a broadened perspective. It gives us the opportunity to open ourselves to new ways of thinking and enhance the way we communicate with others.
The end goal of conflict is to find a resolution in which both parties grow. What I mean by seeking conflict is not to start a physical or verbal fight, but to be willing to challenge your ideas or to ask the hard questions.
Politics is a good example of conflict avoidance. People tend to be either very outspoken about their political views or completely silent. There are moderates out there, but they are shunned by the left or the right side of politics. You’re either right or you’re wrong. This makes it difficult for people to have a balanced discussion. It is natural for debates to get heated, but the point of the debate is for people to come to a consensus.
When Jesus said not to have disputations, I believe He meant that the conflict that would arise among themselves should not break up their unity in the Church. Conflict should be something that builds you up, not tear you down. Avoiding conflicts stagnates your growth intellectually, physically and most certainly spiritually. Look forward to conflict and seek it. Have that conversation you have been holding back with that friend, family member, co–worker or anyone you may have been holding back from for the sake of ease. Take courage and believe that you have something to offer to everyone.