young boy holds his fist up in a fighting stance

The Blessings of Conflict

None of us are immune to conflict. When approached the right way, conflicts can present the opportunity for us to better ourselves and magnify our faith.

"Conflicts are easy to get into but difficult to get out of. If we have the courage to face them early, they are easier to resolve and to learn from." -Gerald R. Williams. A young man and young woman hold each other tightly on an empty airport landing strip

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz

Conflict is abundant in today’s world, and it’s all too easy to walk away from an argument sure that we’re right and that the other person is wrong. In his speech “Learning from Our Conflicts,” Gerald R. Williams shares tips on how we can change our approach to handling moments of conflict.

“When we remember our conflicts and reflect on them,” Williams says, “they are like mirrors that can teach us things about ourselves that are otherwise difficult to discover.” Our conflicts can reveal to us “where we are weak, defensive, prideful, or otherwise in need of repair.” Understanding our faults gives us the opportunity to improve ourselves and make our weaknesses strong. (Remember Ether 12:27.)

Even the Prophet Joseph Smith struggled with responding well to conflict. When Joseph received a letter from Oliver Cowdery claiming that an error had been made in a Doctrine and Covenants verse and commanding that Joseph resolve it—or be guilty of priestcraft—Joseph was stunned and offended. Joseph “immediately wrote to him in reply,” defensively lashing out at Oliver. Soon realizing that he had poorly handled this conflict, Joseph traveled to the Whitmer home to make things right.

One month later, Hiram Page used what he considered to be a seer stone to receive revelation for the Church, and Joseph again faced the possibility of conflict. Having learned from his previous conflict with Oliver, Joseph chose a different way to respond to Hiram. Instead of reacting rashly, Joseph spent “the greater part of the night . . . in prayer and supplication,” asking the Lord how to best resolve the situation. In response, Joseph received a revelation that we now know as Doctrine and Covenants 28.

Joseph’s choice to pause and seek guidance was an exercise in humility and patience. Rather than give in to the temptation of reacting with pride and rash words, Joseph understood his own weakness and was blessed by the Lord for his meekness.

Learn more about how we can turn moments of conflict into opportunities for blessings by reading Gerald R. Williams’s full speech “Learning from Our Conflicts.”

Source: BYU Speeches

—Morgan Reese, Mormon Insights

feature image by sebastian mellen

Find more insights

Read “The Peaceful Life through Reconciliation: Five Stories from the Old Testament,” an Ensign article by Keith Meservy, to find out more about how the Lord blesses us as we deal well with conflict in our lives.

Learn how to avoid cycles of conflict in marriage by reading C. Ross Clement’s Ensign article “Breaking the Cycle: A Case Study of Conflict in Marriage.”


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  1. It’s hard to admit when a conflict arises that you need to learn from it. But this is a good reminder to respond humbly instead of letting pride take over. I hadn’t heard that story of Joseph and Oliver before.

  2. How does Gerald R. Williams suggest turning conflicts into opportunities for self-improvement and spiritual growth?

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