I sighed deeply, knowing a difficult conversation with a parent was in my near future. A children’s worship leader – one with extraordinary patience and skill in managing rambunctious behavior – had just expressed her concerns about a second grader’s ongoing disruptive and defiant actions during Godly Play.
I needed – I really wanted – to work with the parent on making children’s worship a sacred space for all of the kids, including her son. But I had experienced this mom as not very solution-focused on several occasions. So I tapped my go-to resource: I called my coach.
My coach asked me questions that surfaced my hoped-for outcomes. Her queries prepared me to ask the mother for a meeting in a non-threatening way, have the right people in the room for the conversation itself, voice the interests shared by all involved, name the point at which we’d made as much headway as we were going to, and communicate the results to those who needed to be in the loop. It was a hard meeting, but it went as well as it could because of all that pre-work.
Conflict is inevitable in ministry. And while the word “conflict” may strike terror in many hearts, conflict is actually value-neutral. It is simply a difference of opinion. Conflict done well can build trust and buy-in. Bungled conflict can lead to…well, we all have our horror stories.
I have found coaching invaluable when I’ve stared down the confusion, vulnerability, and fear that come with conflict, and I believe it can help you too. Specifically, a coach can help you:
- define the conflict and see its potential value
- separate conflicting ideas from the people who hold them
- explore the dynamics of the situation and sort out your role (if any)
- take a step back and see the issue or pastoral care need behind the issue
- pinpoint what you don’t yet know but need to find out about the conflict
- prompt you to name and assess options for taking action
- strategize specific conversations
- think about resources and partners available to you
- empower you to say or do difficult but necessary things
- build in some accountability for following through with your action plan
If you recognize value in these conversation points for your own ministry, let’s talk.