Posts Tagged ‘conflict resolution’

20121210-223129.jpg

Here is an excerpt from a teaching at Resonate Church, Anchorage Alaska.

There are a lot of nice people in this world. These people have the ultimate goal of being nice in every situation. These people are not bad, but they can be unhealthy. no one would know it to look at them. They don’t have enemies. But one day a person like this will quit a job for no apparent reason, give up on a marriage, get mysterious diseases, or even commit suicide, literally dying from a disease called “Fear of Conflict.” I am not talking about a personality type. I am taking about a behavior that stems from something inside.

Being a peacemaker is different from being afraid of conflict. Being a peacemaker is actually a very courageous thing to do. Being a peacemaker is the act of reconciling two parties who were formerly enemies. Being a peacemaker is wisely helping people see common ground. Peacemakers thrive in the midst of conflict. In the midst of conflict is where their peacemaking skills can really shine. When we are afraid of conflict, we think we are keeping the peace, but it is really only peaceful on the surface. There could be a lethal storm brewing underneath. We are really just putting a bandaid on cancerous cells.

If you grew up in an abusive home, maybe the only thing you know is negative conflict, so you run as far from conflict as you can. Avoidance is your safety mechanism. But healthy families know how to argue, how to disagree, and how to come out on the other side with a deeper and more loving relationship than ever before.

I’m told there is a line in Jerry Maguire where Jerry says, “You think we’re arguing, I say we’re finally talking!”

Talking is healthy, sometimes even loud talking. A team, whether a church team, a family unit, a workplace team, a sports team, or a marriage is not a truly functional team unless it is able to embrace conflict.

For someone who has rarely or never experienced conflict in a healthy way, doing it can be scary. It can feel unnatural and even wrong. However, conflict can strengthen a relationship: in a marriage, a job, a church, almost anywhere.

Have you ever been really nervous about dealing with a conflict? Or have you ever expressed yourself honestly and then got the cold shoulder as a result? We all have. That is why we fear conflict. We aren’t the only ones. Some of our biblical heroes in the bible also ran from conflict.

Abraham feared conflict when he told the kings his wife was his sister. He was afraid that the kings would kill him to have her for themselves.

Aaron operated from a fear of conflict when he gave into the Israelites when they asked for an idol to worship, the golden calf. He didn’t have Moses strong leadership and he caved to the pressure of the complaining crowd.

Many kings listed in the Bible worshipped The Lord themselves, but they refused to eradicate the worship of false gods in their land. They feared that someone would be mad at them if they took a stand. Most probably, they too feared conflict.

In the New Testament, we find Peter running from conflict when he denies his association with Jesus. He was afraid they would crucify him right along with Jesus. This is the man who so confidently stated that even if everyone else deserted Jesus, surely he would not. He was wrong. The fear of conflict got the best of him.

Fear puts our imagination to work in a negative way. If we have experienced punishment for being honest, we will fear being honest again. I want you to walk away today turning your imagination toward conflict in a positive sense. Imagine conflict as a key to a door. It unlocks the door and on the other side of the door you can find new understanding of another person, new understanding of yourself, and new bonds of relationship forming. You cannot control how the other person will always react, but you can control how you treat them. You can experience the love of Jesus for another human being in a new way.

There were those heroes of our faith who were tempted to fear conflict like Esther and Gideon. Thankfully, these people did not linger in their fears, but they acted with courage. Each of them took a step toward the door of conflict, turned the key, and opened it. When they opened that door, scary though it was, they liberated themselves along with their entire nation. You never fully know how God is planning on using you. Don’t let a little conflict scare you away.

To deal with conflict we must believe core things. We must have these presuppositions about ourselves and about others.

1a: My thoughts and feelings are valid.
1b: The thoughts and feelings of my team member are valid.

I love this one scene from the TV show, Everybody Loves Raymond. It illustrates this point so well.

RAY BARONE : What? No! It was all fun. Come on, I told you, people thought that we did it on purpose.

DEBRA BARONE : I felt humiliated.

RAY BARONE : Don’t feel humiliated.

DEBRA BARONE : Don’t tell me how to feel.

RAY BARONE : But you’re wrong.

DEBRA BARONE : There’s no right or wrong, this is how I feel. You can not tell me not be humiliated, I just am.

RAY BARONE : Okay, all right, feel humiliated.

DEBRA BARONE : I don’t anymore.

RAY BARONE : Okay, all right…

DEBRA BARONE : Now I’m just angry. I mean I can’t believe – I can’t believe you – It’s bad enough what you did to me tonight, but you don’t even care how I feel about it. All you care about is how well you did, you laugh-whore

RAY BARONE : Maybe you should… go back to being humiliated.

Think about the Book of Psalms. God considered the feelings of the authors of those Psalms valid enough to put in the Bible. Some of those feelings were not nice. It’s okay. There is a gigantic book placed right in the middle of the Bible that tells us that feelings are okay to have. Some of you need permission to feel what you feel. It’s okay, God can be God and we can be people. People who have feelings.

2a: I have some knowledge or perspective that my teammate may need.
2b: My teammate has knowledge or perspective that I may need.

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22 NIV)

3: People can change.

Not only can people be transformed by Jesus, but people can change their perspective in any number of ways.

4: Engaging in conflict has the power to strengthen and improve our team performance.

Why do we risk engaging in conflict with those we love? Isn’t it because we believe that it will benefit our relationship? It is worth the effort to us. If we can just extend that circle out a bit and be willing to conflict with people in church instead of just leaving a church whenever conflict arises or just resorting to gossip, lets let it pull us together as a stronger, more productive unit.

5: After discussion, if we still disagree, it won’t ruin the relationship.
(In other words, I am confident that no one is seeking to destroy me. I am safe here.)

The reason conflict is so dreaded is that so few of us are really good at it. Let’s talk about bad conflict, what it looks like. Let’s use this description to distinguish from bad conflict.

Ugly Conflict:

Accusing
Controlling
Ordering
Focus on Impenetrable Differences
Belittling another’s value

Beautiful Conflict:

Admitting (“I” Statements)
Empowering (Letting the person have feelings and thoughts of their own.)
Asking (Drawing the other person out. Asking for clarification. Repeating what you hear.)
Focus on Common Ground (Coming up with creative solutions together.)
Reiterating the value of another (Telling or showing the person that your relationship with them matters to you.)

The point of conflict is not always that we agree.
The point of some conflict is that we are heard.

Made in the image of God, we are innately powerful. We have the power to affect others in a drastic way.

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. (Proverbs 27:5, 6 NIV)

An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips. (Proverbs 24:26 NIV)

I once had a situation in Church where I was co-leading a bible study with Jake and a young lady in our class made a comment about marriage. I was thinking about how to wrap up the discussion and made some more closing comments after she made hers. The comments I made had nothing to do with what she had just said, but she thought that I was implying something about her relationship with her husband. I was so happy when she came to me later admitting that the comments hurt her. When I explained that I had not intended the comments to be directed toward her in any way she was relieved. Most people would not have done this. They would have held it against me all because of a silly misunderstanding.

Our relationship is like a pearl inside a clam. The more that sand is irritated, the more conflict we are able to engage in and come through, the stronger our relationship becomes.

But when we conflict, we strive to engage in beautiful conflict. You cannot control another person’s reaction, but you can control your own. You can follow the rules of healthy conflict and watch your relationships flourish, watch your life and your team become more successful than you ever imagined!