Most leaders have strong views about certain beliefs, practices and life in general. I do and occasionally I find it hard to cope with opinionated people. We mustn’t be dogmatic about everything. However, when I think of eternity most of these thoughts pale into insignificance as being unimportant. The same applies to local groups of Believers. The problem however is that we are all less than perfect.
There is a difference between being a ‘peace keeper’ and a ‘peace maker’. If we have come out of a conflicted background we are more than likely to simply want to ‘keep the peace’. However, taking that approach is like covering up a festering wound which never heals. We must learn knew skills.
Become a ‘person of peace’ and people will rise up and call you blessed.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ Matt 5:9.
Even godly people like the apostle Paul and Barnabas had such a strong disagreement with each other over whether to take John Mark with them on their next missionary journey that they went their separate ways. However in time it seems Paul began to appreciate John Mark and invited him along.
‘My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ Col 2: 2-3.
There are very few people I have come across who enjoy a good fight. Several of my churches I have pastored were deeply conflicted before my arrival and it took several years to turn them around. That’s when the glory of God is revealed. Here are some useful hints I have sometimes learnt the hard way.
- Wrong ways we sometimes may try and handle conflict is through fight or flight.
- Get the log out of your own eye first and then you may be able to help others.
- Often there are two sides to every story. Get the facts straight and don’t jump to conclusions. *Me at Oamaru.
- Look for a win / win solution where both people come out on top.
- Shame based cultures have to sometimes be handled differently from power based cultures. (Expand). Look for a person of peace and use them in that situation. E.g.
- Pray hard and rely upon the promises of Scripture to bring relief. *Linwood.
- Portray an attitude of a relaxed disposition and love when dealing with people even if you don’t feel it or agree with the stance they are taking.
- Don’t avoid confrontation when it is necessary. A sleepless night is not uncommon before tacking a difficult situation, but it keeps us humble and also makes us more reliant upon God.
- Be quick to listen and slow to speak. (Bible verse) Choose your battles carefully. Unfortunately some people lack wisdom in this area and make a rod for their back. Make the main thing the main thing!
- Avoid triangulation – explain *Coopers.
- Don’t be too proud to get outside help, which I have done on more than one occasion. There is no shame in it. This can be a lifesaver and bring objectivity to the situation as well as releave stress.
- Get also a personal mentor to talk to on a regular basis to off load stress.
- Explain if necessary your actions but don’t defend yourself when others are angry with you.
- Learn to sincerely apologies when you have wronged others and at other times you may still need to apologies even when you think you are sure you are in the right. In that strange way I have noticed it at times may bring release to others. It’s like caring for the weaker brother or sister.
- I have found the following training courses and seminars most helpful. Transitional ministry which is to do with change management. For example many churches struggle with adopting new wineskins and accepting new pastors (or leaders) after a pastor has been there for many years and since moved on etc. Conflict resolution deals with resolving conflict and Setting your church free with unresolved issues from the past and in particular where sin has not been brought to the light and confessed. It breaks dysfunctional behaviour and brings the church into a new freedom in Christ!
Setting your Church free by Neil Anderson
Peacing together by David Cormack
Guiding people through conflict by Peacemaker Ministries.
Francis of Assis – Peace