Conflict – the greatest divisor!
Conflict… You know, honestly, most of my conflict has been IN the church, amongst the saints, not with people who deny or simply don’t know Jesus. For some reason, we – especially Yank Christians – are very divisive people, drawing lines, defining ourselves by what we’re against, and defending our positions (personal, preferences, pride, agendas) and breaking relationships with those who are WITH US in this. It is sad.
Having gone to Multnomah Biblical Seminary, we were required to do a class on conflict! Yes, a master’s level class (3 hours) on conflict and resolving it.
Bottom line from not just learning there, but years in mission/ministry and in leading a community that lives quite communally:
1. HEAR – listen to understand
2. START BY THINKING THE BEST – rarely is someone out to do wrong, live with guile or malice, especially those we love and love Christ with us. SO, remind yourself of the truth, before the emotion of offense began… and think the best. Start with the best assumption.
3. Seek to understand, clarify something like this: “So, this occurred… That bothered me… I felt… I know you… therefore, can you help me understand, and clarify for me…? I want to be reconciled either way…” THEN LISTEN!
4. SURRENDER – surrender your agenda and listen to what is happening. Is it OUR agenda together woven as a tapestry? Does God have a different agenda?
5. FORGIVE – even if you are right, can you cancel the debt?
6. CONFESS & APOLOGIZE – Can you own your s***? Humility goes a LONG way… AND you need to say the words, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I was wrong.” No “buts” allowed. Just own it where you need to! I lived overseas several times. One culture found it near impossible to apologize. The best they could muster was “Mistakes were made.” While I had to pass what they said through their cultural lenses, I still think they have a cultural blind spot and need to learn to do that… and yep, I’m talking about Christians.
BUT – read this article in a blog I often follow: Reclaiming the Mission It’s worth the time.