Are you ready to put the seven keys to leading through conflict into practice? Refer to the January 30, 2015 post for an overview and the January 16, 2015 post for the foundational truths.
Now let’s dive into the first key!
Start at the core, not the chaos.
Any time conflict appears, it brings with it an atmosphere of confusion. A wise leader will assess the situation through the lens of Christ as the source. Realizing Christ is not the source of confusion but of clarity. Believers in conflict need a reality check at the onset of conflict.
Ask “What’s at stake if this conflict is not dealt with correctly?” You’ll get answers that fall within two camps: The “me” focus and the “they” focus. Both of these camps filter conflict from faulty assumptions. They assume the conflict rages because of the other person. Lead those in conflict to pull back and see the eternal perspective. There is only one answer to the question. Have the parties in conflict consider this answer: “The witness of Jesus Christ is at stake.” Too often we become myopic and only see what is immediately a threat or hurt. Take parties to God’s Word to help them pull back and see Ephesians 6:12. The other person is not the enemy.
With an agreed eternal perspective, you as the leader can lay the foundation for reconciliation. Notice, you’ve not yet asked the parties for details of their conflict. Regardless of the situation, the foundation is the same.
Take time to affirm what they are experiencing, feeling, and thinking. It is very real. They are having normal responses to an abnormal situation. Conflict is contradictory to God’s desire for their relationship. At this point in the interaction, take the parties again to God’s perspective. I like to explain that there are three perspectives to this conflict; the ones in conflict each have their perspective while God has His. It is this third perspective that matters. Your role as a leader is NOT to determine who is right and who is wrong but rather to help them see what is right. James 4:1-3 provides God’s perspective. Ask the parties to consider that passage in light of their situation.
This initial phase of S.E.R.V.A.N.T. leading is a discipleship process of walking the parties in conflict to an agreed place of defining conflict biblically and them taking personal responsibility to choose Christ as their source for reconciliation. Lead the parties as you teach biblical truth.
Conflict as defined by Ken Sande is his book “The Peacemaker” is the best definition I’ve found. “Conflict is a difference in opinion or purpose that frustrates someone’s goals or desires.” He goes on to lay out the progression of an idol in the heart. When a desire becomes a demand of another person, we’ve crossed the line. This demand, left unmet will cause us to judge the character and motives of the other. Once we begin to judge, it is a short step away from our doling out punishment. We punish by withdrawing physically or emotionally, attacking verbally, gossiping, slandering, or any number of other sinful attitudes and behaviors.
To lead well in the face of conflict requires us to define and clarify as we teach the initial truths that set the stage for the parties to be reconciled. Ask parties to confess those things they have contributed to the conflict. This can be challenging without guiding them to Luke 6:41-42 for God’s perspective.
Next weeks post will move us from this first key “Start at the core, not the chaos” into the second key “Engage appropriately”
Be prayed up and mission ready for your calling to S.E.R.V.A.N.T leadership in conflict!