Channeling conflict

No one – well, no healthy person – loves conflict. But since we are neither clones nor automatons, conflict happens.

Creative Commons "Conflict Resolver" by Bopuc is licensed under CC 2.0.
Creative Commons “Conflict Resolver” by Bopuc is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Actually, I’ll take it a step further. We need conflict to grow as individuals and as communities. That tension prompts us to reflect on and clarify what we’re passionate about and why. It (ideally) makes us more carefully consider our positions and interactions and keeps us engaged with those who believe differently than we do. Conflict also shakes us out of complacency by spicing things up.

But conflict is still uncomfortable and potentially destructive if it’s not managed well. Here are some questions to ponder when dealing with conflict in a ministry setting:

  • What is really driving the conflict? Often the presenting issue is not the real issue.
  • What does your role need to be in managing the conflict? Know where your involvement should begin and end. Don’t enable others’ bad behavior by stepping in out of your own anxiety.
  • How can the passions at play be redirected? Apathy is a much bigger problem than conflict. So what are some positive outlets for the care being shown?
  • What culture changes need to occur so that future conflict is productive? Be proactive about teaching your people how to fight well. It will be worth your effort!

The endgame is not to eliminate conflict but to do conflict well. If you know people or churches who model this, find out what their conflict hacks are and try them on for size.

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