One of the best things about my job is that I get to hang out with college students. I often meet up with girls at Starbucks, for lunch, or in the office. Sometimes we just meet to catch up and shoot the breeze. Other times, there is a specific conflict or concern that a student needs some help navigating through.
The truth is, I often feel inadequate when giving advice or speaking wisdom into other people's circumstances. What if I don’t have the biblical knowledge they’re looking for? What if I can’t find the right words for them? How can I comfort, help, and encourage them with what I do know?
Time and again, I’ve found that when a student has a problem, it’s usually with one person she deeply cares about--a close friend, a guy, or a family member. While she tells me the story, I can see where her heart is immediately: she hates being in conflict, there was some sort of miscommunication, and it’s clear that she loves that other person and wants to make amends.
So, I usually say two things.
First I ask, "Have you told that person everything you just told me?" ("No...")
And second, I say, "You need to have a conversation with that person. Soon." ("I know. You're right.")
Clear communication, spoken in love, is the key to conflict resolution. It’s what clears up misunderstandings and miscommunicated expectations. It creates the opportunity for resentment to dissolve and for anger to be released. It's a catalyst for change, forgiveness, and healing to happen. It reveals concern and care. And what are the three most important things you can say to someone?
I love you.
You don’t need to have a degree or really know anything to be able to give this advice or to live this out. You just need to find the courage to be intentional and genuine and do the right thing: Say what you need to say...