Practical Proverbial, 8 July 2016, Conflict Management

Conflict Management.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18: 15-17.

Hello my friend.   It’s good to be back to share a few thoughts with you. For the next few months, I’d like to give you a look-see ahead into a project God put on my heart. Awhile back He inspired me to learn how to be a speaker in ways that will work for His kingdom.   Specifically, He put the thought in my brain to teach people to manage God’s way.

Project and team management is what I do for a living, and I’m passionate about doing it well.   The longer you live as a Christian the more you see how the Bible is both God’s word and handbook for our lives.   It’s the instruction manual for the human race.   Since this is so, and since work is so much of a part of our living, the Lord impressed on me that I should do my part to help folks understand how the Bible is also the best practical instruction manual for how we should interact on the job. To this end, I’m looking into ways to do help build this message, this blog being one of them.   Going forward, look for weekly updates on various Bible verses and subjects related to how we can manage God’s way.   As in all things, the first, best way to undertake any effort is to pray.   I’ve been praying on this concept and ask you to do the same for me.

And after we have begun in prayer, let’s continue in action.

Last year, I managed a large project in Minnesota.   One day, our team was discussing Christian faith and the workplace. Someone remarked that it was against client (and EEOC) policy to proseletyze in the workplace.   We all agreed, and then I said that, despite this, you could (and should) still work applying Christian principles especially at work.   We argued some, and then I brought up Matthew 18, specifically the verses above.   I remarked how it had been our team’s policy, from myself on down, to resolve conflict by going to the source and trying to work out problems before they escalate.

That isn’t my bright idea: it’s Jesus’. It’s Matthew 18. The first step to resolving any conflict is to go to the person with whom you’re in conflict.   You go in private because you stand a better chance of resolving an issue amicably if it’s done in private.   If the issue can’t be resolved in private, then you go to the next level; a manager or supervisor.   If that still doesn’t resolve the issue, you have the option of taking deeper action, perhaps making a policy change, or escalating the issue higher up the management chain.

Isn’t that what Matthew 18 is telling us to do?

Confronting conflict takes courage…and faith. Speaking, then acting, to build peace is God’s courageous way.   You need courage to face up to someone who may be accusing you, who is doing or saying things that are adversarial to you.   You need faith to know that you’re doing the right thing, especially since you know that the other party may resist; they may have reason to.   You need God for any real peace.

In our workplaces, in our homes, in our personal lives, and in the areas where those things intersect, we need to live out Matthew 18 all the time. We all know that our world is full of chaos, full of hatred and disorder.   I wonder how much of that chaos we could calm if only we would first go to those opposing us and speak love with them. This isn’t some Pollyanna, Loretta Lynch kind of ‘big group hug.’   This is going to those with whom we have conflict and speaking with them in ways to resolve the conflict.   It’s showing that you seek real justice for the issues in contention.  It’s an act of caring about something more than just ourselves. Not to build a cease-fire or détente, but to resolve – finish, end, conclude – that conflict in ways that build God’s peace.

That first step is, as they say, a doozy. It means conceiving mercy; it means giving grace.   Taking that first step, whether in your cubicle or in your living room, means listening, considering, giving. We all fail at doing that; we are each a work in progress. Considering the other guy’s position positions us to move forward and begin to resolve what violence transpires between us. If we remember that we ‘get to’ enact Matthew 18, perhaps we can resolve conflict so that we don’t ‘have to’ do so later in ways that are much greater.

This is how we manage God’s way.

For more reading:   James 1:19, Ephesians 4: 31-32, Colossians 3:13, Hebrews 12: 14-15, Proverbs 15:1, Proverbs 16:7, Leviticus 19:18, Luke 17:4.

Lord, thank You for Your commanding advice on how to resolve conflict. Help me to live this out where I am today.

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