1. Who’s involved? How many sides of the story are there? With most conflicts there are those who initiate and those who respond. Rarely will everyone in the conflict show up at your door or conference call to air their complaint. Make sure you know who needs to be involved in the conversations. Do this by making a list of the people whose names are mentioned in the course of conversations with the parties and contacting them about the situation. This will help you determine who and who does not need to be involved moving forward.
2. What’s at stake? If this conflict is not addressed, what are the long-term consequences? In the course of listening, be discerning for who may be affected. Take note of the potential for harm; emotionally, spiritually, or physically. Ask the parties what they believe is at stake and challenge them to understand the seriousness of the situation; the most serious being the witness of Jesus Christ!
3. What’s my role? Leader doesn’t automatically mean mediator. This assessment question is critical. There will be situations that are over your head. Determine a plan of action for referral by gathering a list of professionals to assist you.
4. Where’s my heart? Before conflict can be addressed in the behavioral realm, it must be addressed spiritually. Before you as a leader can address it spiritually with parties involved, you must check your motivation. Ask yourself: “Why am I motivated to speak into this conflict?”. How you answer is a reflection of the condition of your own heart. Do you have an agenda in diving into help with this conflict? You do… but is it the right agenda? 2 Timothy 2-3 among many other passages of Scripture clearly state the spiritual leader’s agenda: Calling people to live a holy life opposed to living out of worldly desires. Take time to write out your agenda as you prayerfully ask God to reveal your heart.
The most important piece of this process is prayer. Stop and pray. Pray and listen. Listen and act.
What advice do you have for following through with any of the four Critical Assessment questions? What other questions might you consider asking?