The best job I had in the years that I worked for CedarCreek Church was that of Staff Liaison Pastor. For nine years, I met monthly with most of the staff to talk about their work, their faith, and their families. At the end of our time, I would pray with them, bringing their concerns to God. Then, I would continue praying about those things until we met the next time. In my position, I got to see God do many miracles in the lives of our staff.
You may think that working for a church is a dream job, and in a way, it really is! This is especially so at CedarCreek, since our founding pastor, Lee Powell, set an example and an expectation for biblical conflict resolution.
Matthew 18: 15
“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.”
If you came to Lee with a problem about another staff member, his first question was, “Have you talked to them about this?”
So, conflict resolution should be a piece of cake, right? We were all working out of the same rule book—the Bible! That really did set us up for success, but still, it wasn’t easy. Most of us had come from the marketplace, public and private sectors, where conflict resolution looked very different from what Jesus teaches us. We had to figure out if something was even worth talking about! Should we just turn the other cheek? Let it go? Forgive and forget? It was a learning experience for us as we navigated through the steps Jesus gave us. But, what glory God received when we went the extra step to try to understand the points of view of our brothers and sisters in Christ!
Whatever your environment or organization, whether it be your work, your family, or your tribe, it is peopled by … people! Imperfect, selfish, self-centered people, who each have their own needs, wants, and agenda. Yet, God’s principles remain the most effective way to navigate through areas of conflict and contention. So many times we assume the worst without knowing the facts. There is no way to know what the facts are unless you ask. Asking involves humbling yourself enough to approach someone and find out their real intentions. Finding common ground, with grace and understanding, will often move your relationship in a positive direction. In Philippians 2:3 Paul writes, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” It’s hard to admit that you may have come to a wrong conclusion from an interaction, but restoring relationships is why Jesus came in the first place. You honor him when you take the time to see another’s viewpoint and try to move toward understanding each other.
What do you do when some sort of drama separates you from the people with whom you work or interact?
Are you willing to speak privately with the person who is causing you distress?
If there is someone with whom you have started to build a list of offenses, have started to avoid at work, or whom you gossip about, pray for wisdom and an opportunity to speak with them about your concerns.
You may want to practice with a trusted friend, who will also pray for you and your conversation.
Lord God, you created us to live in community, but community is hard because you also created us so differently. I believe it is your desire for us to love each other enough to find common ground. That requires us to be humble and to acknowledge that each of us brings different gifts to the table. Give us wisdom to know when to speak and when to listen. In all our actions and words, let us love our neighbor and honor you. Amen.
This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people who God used to start CedarCreek 21 years ago, and was on staff until 2013. She and her husband Mike love to travel the country in their motor home with their kitties Jane & Mary. Lauri is passionate about prayer, and about helping women discover who they are in Christ. She doesn’t tweet but you can follow her and Mike’s adventures on Facebook.
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