In my work with church leaders and their congregations, I often hear the words, “They’re all good people. Why can’t we just get along and work together?”
Great question! We’re all part of one human family, but that doesn’t save us from seemingly endless strife.
But there ARE ways to ease conflict in your church, ways that you can learn to work together with greater success and vitality than you’ve ever dreamed possible. With these 4 Steps to Easing Conflict, you really can stop pulling your hair out and put away the aspirin bottle!
1. Embrace Your Humanity.
Yep! The first step is all about YOU! Embrace your own humanity.
When conflict strikes, especially when it seems ever-present in our congregations, its easy to point a finger at ourselves. “I MUST be the problem!” But before you get too hard on yourself, take a step back. You’re doing God’s work and it wasn’t always easy for Jesus, either! Sometimes his message wasn’t well-received or fell on deaf ears. But, he kept on truckin’!
Conflict doesn’t signal disaster. In fact, it may be a sign that things are starting to work, that people are thinking and caring about what’s happening in your church and how to make things work better. They care enough to speak up and voice their opinions. A lack of conflict, in fact, could mean that nobody’s listening, nobody cares.
Building fair, just, honest and holy relationships is hard work! Accept that and accept yourself.
In the midst of arguments, hurt feelings, and temper tantrums, embrace your own humanity just as you are. Just as God does.
2. Discover What Motivates You and Those Around You.
How important are your motivators? Well, very important in easing conflict!
Take a look at what’s truly motivating you in your ministry. Is your priority building your congregation while your lay leaders are more concerned with community involvement? Are you trying to build a social justice ministry while their main focus is the next bake sale? Are you wanting to see changes NOW while they are working steadily at (what you consider) a snail’s pace?
Pace and Priority (those key words again!), don’t need to be the same to work together successfully and peacefully, but knowing your motivators and those of whom you’re working with, is essential.
3. Decode Conflict.
Once you’ve discovered motivations, it’s time to take the next step and decode the conflict that’s slowing you down. What’s really going on for your people when they’re in conflict?
If you know that Sasha’s conscientiousness motivates her to get things done systematically, completing one project before going on to the next, you can see why Martin’s enthusiasm and energy, his pace and desire to start new programs and ideas, might cause tension. Their Pace and Priority levels are very different.
But, once you have the tools to decode the conflict around you, to understand motivators, what makes people “tick”, you can help facilitate Sasha and Martin to the satisfaction of both and the benefit of your church!
4. Strategize for Success.
Now, that you’ve embraced your own humanity, as well as that of your church leaders, and understand that we all truly have different motivations though all for what each of us perceives as the good of the church, you can work together more efficiently in strategizing for the success of your church community!
Finally, kick back and breathe. Then breathe again. Trust God to lead you through the process.
I’m always here to help too. Send an email to email@example.com if you’d like a complementary consultation about how to ease conflict in your congregation.