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Make Conflict Work for You

Handling disagreement can help your relationships
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Read between the lines

During the meeting, make clarifying statements about how you think each person is feeling and thinking. If you see arms crossed in front of her chest, for example, this may mean a closed type of communication. Ask why she feels so closed off to what you are saying. Is there underlying hurt? disappointment? disrespect? Sometimes what is not being said is just as important as what is being said.

Ask clarifying questions

Open your mind and heart to what the mediator has to say regarding the situation. Is there truth to the mediator’s point of view? Are there areas where you as a leader are wrong and you need to repent? It takes two people to argue. It also takes two people to solve the disagreement. It takes humility on both parts to make that happen. Ask God to point out areas that you need to work on that will help the other person feel respected and valued.

Come to a peaceable agreement

Romans 12:18 reminds us, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” As Christians, we are blessed if we seek peaceable solutions to our problems. That means meeting with people and facing our issues directly. It does not mean you will always come to a peaceable solution. Others’ response to conflict is not your problem; it’s their problem. Sometimes people are unwilling to take responsibility for their actions. Do everything within your power to make peace.

Follow up

I believe a certain amount of awkwardness results when you have conflict with someone. Whether it ends peacefully or not, as a leader you need to make sure each party has come to some sort of resolution. Some members, unfortunately, may need to leave because their vision for the ministry clashes with yours. This is okay. You need to give yourself permission to let the relationship end if it’s putting your ministry’s unity in jeopardy. Conflict helps us extract the goodness of God out of every situation. Initiating a follow-up meeting helps resolve any guilt over the conflict and helps you assure peace has truly been achieved. Following up helps you to gain closure over the issue.

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