The One Sentence That Solves Every Conflict

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What if you could solve almost all of your relational conflicts in one short sentence?

What if you could solve almost all of your relational conflicts in one short sentence?

Now that’s a big claim, isn’t it?

Yeah, I know. I know I just wrote a check you don’t think I can cash and I know this sounds crazy, but I really do believe this sentence has the potential to resolve virtually all conflicts thanks to the Apostle James and a great sermon by Andy Stanley.

All right, why don’t we test my claim? But I need your help.

Please perform this exercise: I want you to think of a conflict/fight/quarrel you’ve had recently. Maybe something with your dad, roommate, husband, coworker etc.

The worse the conflict, the better. (As long as you can reminisce without punching a hole through your monitor.)

Okay, got it? Feeling anxious? Heart racing? Getting angry replaying the scene? Can’t stop thinking of zingers for your next confrontation?

All right. Perfect.

Now, here’s what’s gonna happen.

Even though I don’t know the what, why or any other details about your conflict, I’m gonna tell you why you got in that argument/fight/quarrel.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire, but do not have, so you kill. You covet, but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. (James 4:1-2)

In other words, James is saying that you experience conflict because you’re not getting what you want. That’s it.

Every conflict boils down to this one truth: You’re not getting what you want.

But they were ‘wrong’ and ‘unfair,’ and she said ‘this’ but did ‘that,’ and they just don’t get it.

I know. And you’re probably right.

But here’s the thing, even when you’re right and they are wrong, the reason you’re fighting is STILL because you aren’t getting what you want.

You want him to think ____ and he isn’t.

You want her to start doing ____ or stop doing ____.

You want them to understand you. You want him to love you. You want her to respect you.

You’re not getting what you want. That’s practically the bottom line in almost every fight and quarrel.

Sammy Adebiyi Sammy grew up in Nigeria. He is currently the Young Adult Pastor at North Point Church. He's also a national speaker for The Mocha Club. He lives in Ohio with his wife Ashley, daughter Bebe and saint bernards MJ and Milo.

More from Sammy Adebiyi or visit Sammy at

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  • whaitfga

    Great message and most certainly is the root of many of our frustrations, anger and strife when dealing with others. When I first heard this message, it immediately made me think about my past and current conflicts. I now find myself reflecting back on this not only when I am in the midst of a conflict, but also when I am in prayer.
    Finally, I assume, as a young adult pastor at North Point you have permission to use this material without giving credit to Senior Pastor Andy Stanley or North Point Community Church, for this was one of the messages in a series recently given there.
    Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ

    • rodney

      Maybe Andy used Sammy’s thought?

      • Sammy Adebiyi

        I wish Rodney. Haha. Not that smart. I heard this sermon from Andy years and years ago. I believe it was called “Mcjagger was right”.

    • Sammy Adebiyi

      Hey, you’re right. I heard this sermon probably 5-7 years ago from Andy Stanley. Church leaders just randomly grabs posts from my blog and posts it on here (I gave them permission). I think I referenced hearing the talk from Andy on my original post but I reposted it later which is the one they grabbed. But yea, I heard Andy teach this first years ago. I’m not that smart. Haha.

      And it’s a different North Point too. I’m in Toledo Ohio.

  • rodney

    I think James point is about people being sinfully self-willed and that underlies conflict. But that is not always the case. One may seek an outcome that is healthy/best/righteous and resisted by another (who may or may not be sinfully self-willed in their resistance). This whole matter is more complex than labelling all disagreement/conflict as sinful. “I want” is not intrinsically sinful, but the believer is constrained to be open to the possibility and if the “I want” is sinful, it should be acknowledged and the resistance ended. If not, the parties involved may have to disagree agreeably.

  • Philip Amiola

    This is one of the best articles I’ve ever read on conflict resolution. I love the simplicity, lucidity and practicality. Thank you, Pastor Sammy.

  • amos8

    Perhaps there is a “conflict” with the title and the message (… or I missed something). That statement does NOT solve “every conflict”! It may (or may not) help us understand one segment of the conflict (there is a lot more to conflict in the first 3 verses of chapter 4), but it does not solve conflicts, let alone “every” conflict. Understanding and resolution are two different things.


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