Leadership Skills Series: Being in Conflict
Principal #5- Who, before What and How
Thus far the focus of this Leadership Skills Series has been to resource you, as a Christian leader, when you’re in conflict. The first four distinctions, plus those remaining, will support you becoming skillful when you’re in “deep weeds”, as my pal and mentor Gary Mayes often says.
You, like me, are also called on to referee when other people are sideways. ‘Who,before what and how’ is the principle I employ virtually every time I get to help broker a breakdown.
It is grounded in the notion that God is committed to make us like Christ. To my clients who are Christian, I say: God’s trying to make a Christian out of you!
God is so committed to transforming us into the likeness of Christ, God will allow conflicts to surface the selfishness, judgments, entitlement, and arrogance that undermine our effectiveness as witness to the world.
God is so interested in our being authentic, that God will let conflict expose the manipulative game-playing and con-artistry each of us has mastered over our lifetime.
Said another way, God is more interested in the Who: the kind of person you are as you move through your life and relationships… than he is aboutwhat needs to be done to resolve the conflicted mess you’re in, and how you and the other party are to move on with your lives!
Got it? “Who, before what and how”.
The rub is, as humans we want to get out of the tension, out of the frustration, out of the discomfort of the conflict right now!
We don’t care much about the character of Christ being formed in us– we want the no-good bum to pay! We’re not all that interested whether the fragrance of Jesus is so evident that people around us begin to re-think what they’ve decided about Christ — we want to win!
Invite the battling parties to temporarily suspend their press for what and how. Ask them to consider what, in their own character, God is addressing through this upset.
As a human being, I prefer that my life be a certain way.
So do you.
Each of us has a “preferred version” of life and each of us has our ways and means to try to get life to behave the way we prefer. Trouble is, there are people in that life of yours, and each person has their preferred version of life, too… and their own ideas about the territory where your two lives intersect.
So, your preferred version of life has at least three committed opponents: reality, other people’s preferred version of life, and God—who is massively committed to developing you into the kind of person who lives an exemplary life. Your leadership development.
When your preferred version of life bumps up against reality, against other’s ideas about how life is supposed to be, or against God’s character-building designs for you— friction results!
Can’t be helped, ‘till something gives.
And, have you noticed: reality doesn’t give. God, thankfully is more committed to your development than you are. He rarely gives. So, rather than surrender your fantasy about how your life and the people in it should be, your “ways and means committee” goes to work on the people near you.
In dozens of creative, bullying, cunning, unrelenting, manipulating, shaming, fear-inducing ways you labor to undermine their commitment to their fantasy of life, so you can have yours!
All the while… God is after your heart.
Who, before what and how.
What would love do?
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