James is a young pastor in his first church. James learned great theology from seminary, but very little about what to expect from boards or how to handle conflict. His first meeting shakes him.

Several board members come across as harsh and opinionated. Several times James tries to make a point, but each time his ideas get shot down. When he verbally agrees with the deacons, even though internally he doesn't agree, they respond with smiles and affirmation. He begins to regularly acquiesce to these deacons to keep their approval and support, thus subconsciously forming some patterns of thinking and relating. In board meetings, he constantly scans the deacons' eyes and body language to gauge the meeting's emotional temperature.

Based on what he senses, he knows when to speak and when to remain quiet. He finds that being agreeable and non-assertive makes the meetings more peaceful. Even though he may disagree with a decision or want to go in a different direction, he doesn't ...

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