"Conflict is an opportunity, a gift." John Paul Lederach
There is an elephant in the middle of the room but no one wants to talk about it. But, then, someone makes a comment. Another person chimes in. Soon there is a heated argument. Words are said. Accusations are made. People get up out of their chairs and leave. Some people leave in brooding sulking silence and others leave with an insulting comment or a threat.
This scenario is sometimes called 'managing by hand grenade' in the business world. Executive coach, Scott Elbin wrote a clever blog to give us some tips on how to handle a hand grenade in our in-box.
I wonder sometimes, if we're too quick to find solutions to issues when God asks us to care about people. When it comes to becoming more like Christ and leading by his example, I think about how much time he spent building relationships with people. It's pretty clear the issues were second on the list. The issue at hand can easily be resolved once we decide that a new relationship is what Jesus is asking us to work on and a new relationship is what's necessary in this situation.
So, what if we can diffuse the hand grenade before it goes off? I think we begin by acknowledging our own behavior in the situation. First, identify our own hurts, habits and hang-ups with how we personally respond when conflict rises. We have to understand what goes on inside us. Sometimes we contribute to the awkward or volatile situation without realizing it. So, begin with a surrendered Christ-honoring frame of mind then ask how you might lead in this situation. Observe and learn, first alone with Christ and then with others. Once we are surrendered to Christ and his leadership in this situation, we can begin with trying to understand people and then the issue.
"For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility..." Ephesians 2:14NIV