Ever met a powerfully influential person who’s great in conflict?

They’re a rare breed, They’ve intentionally developed the discipline and rigor to govern themselves when they’d prefer to react, explode, shut down, counter-attack, or evaporate.

Christian leaders can benefit greatly from skillfully navigating situations of conflict. We’ve already pointed out that conflict is common to the Christian experience. The ministry of reconciliation, to which every believer is called, demands that it be so.

How can you become great at being in conflict?

Neutral 3Get neutral.

Think about a transmission…

With your car in drive, you’re “in gear” ready to move. In this posture you’re ready to attack your adversary… or to flee the scene.

Putting your car in reverse is like being poised to back-pedal. To load all the blame on yourself. In this posture, you cave in to escape the discomfort that being in conflict represents to you.

Most of us have trained ourselves to throw ourselves into “drive” or “reverse” when controversy arises. Postured in this way you are prematurely predisposed to action, when learning will serve you far better.

There will be a time to take action, but this isn’t it. Not yet.

How often have you been burned by assuming you understood a conflicted situation and reacted too swiftly or too harshly?

If you’ve left a wake of broken relationships in your past, I guarantee you’ve done this.

Repeatedly. Maybe habitually.

A car in neutral isn’t going anywhere. Not yet.

When you get yourself to neutral, you’re resisting the impulse to move.

Switzerland 3 Switzerland considers itself a neutral country. That means that in a conflict they’re not taking sides. They’ve declared it up front. They have no dog in the fight, no horse in the race, no pugilist in the ring.

In neutral, you’re postured the same way.

Here’s where it gets tricky. In conflict, a healthy person will immediately side with herself.

The unhealthy person might automatically knee-jerk to side with his accuser. Sounds odd, but it happens.

blinded 3The problem is that as soon as you lock in on one outcome your humanity begins to narrow your focus.

As it does, you lose objectivity.

You begin collecting evidence in support of the side you’re pulling for. And, you find evidence to oppose the other side.

This evidence collection is not impartial. Your humanity causes you to ignore, to minimize, to actually not see evidence that contradicts your cherished position.

It’s not that you’re dishonest; your desire to be “right” trumps your objectivity.

You can test this the next time you watch a sporting event involving a favorite team. You’ll identify un-flagged fouls against your team, and scarcely notice those against their opponent!

Getting to neutral means choosing to embrace AMBIGUITY. Entering into the discomfort of not deciding who’s right and wrong—even when you are the one “on trial”.

Getting to neutral allows you to stay curious, to return to a learning posture.

And, in any conflict, learning is the key to an honorable, rewarding resolution.

Being in Conflict 3.docx

KRK 8/17/2014