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Resolving Conflict as a Leader
by Filoiann Wiedenhoff
1/25/2008 / Leadership
2 Corinthians 5:18-20
"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. NIV
Resolving conflict is not one of my favorite parts of ministry but is a necessary part if we want to keep order and peace among the brethren. If a person comes to me about another person the bible says that they are to go to that person one on one first. So I usually will send them back to the other person to talk to them in hope that they can work things out on their own. If that doesn't happen and both parties are at odds with each other, then as a leader our responsibility is to step in as a mediator.
Unfortunately as a leader and pastor's wife, I have had to personally deal with resolving conflict between two parties more than I would like to admit. It is never fun but conflict in itself is something no one enjoys going through, especially if it involves you. I think I can safely say that we all have been there at one time or another.
Of course before you deal with any situation like this, prayer is always number one on the priority list; to pray for wisdom, discernment and for God to reveal the root of the problem so that you can deal accordingly and also for God to bring reconciliation, restoration and healing between the two parties.
Here are some helpful tips as a leader we can help people resolve conflict:
1. Be the Peacemaker: The bible says that our goal as born again believers is to be peacemakers. As a leader understanding the position of being a peacemaker helps us establish our foundation on where to begin when it comes to resolving conflict. As peacemakers our goal is to bring peace to a situation and to resolve the conflict and restore unity.
2. Stay Neutral: When there is a division between two parties, it is important that you as the leader stay neutral. By staying neutral you are not taking sides but acting as mediator, showing no partiality either way but ensuring that truth and justice is established.
3. Hear Both Sides: Every story sounds good and true that is until you hear the other side. Try your best to stay opened to hearing both sides of the matter and do not make a judgment until you have heard the other side. You will then be able to see the bigger picture of what happened and what is at the root of their conflict and can then make some sound observations and conclusions.
4. Be willing to hold parties accountable: If a wrong has been done by both or one party, as a leader we need to be willing to go to one or both and hold them accountable biblically showing them scriptures, pointing out their errors and then showing them the truths of what the bible says about their actions and ask them to repent if need be. By holding them accountable you are leading them back to God biblically and encouraging them to walk in the spirit than in their flesh.
5. Acknowledge Both People: The Apostle Paul was a great example when he acknowledged the two women Euodia and Syntyche in Phillipians 4;2 "I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord." Paul was letting them know that he loved them both and wasn't going to take sides but focused on the more important matter at hand which was reconciliation.
6. Encourage Reconciliation: Paul was encouraging these women that regardless of what problems they were having, they needed to agree with each other in the Lord. Our responsibility is to encourage both parties to be willing to work things out, reconcile with one another, to communicate with each other and also to take responsibility for their own actions and be willing to apologize and ask for forgiveness if needed.
7. Bring Them Together: Once they have agreed the next step is to plan a date and time for them to meet and reconcile with you there as the mediator. If they are willing to do it on their own great but if not a mediator should be present. I usually have a talk with both parties separately before the meeting to bring some godly wisdom and insight into the situation through the Word of God and encouragement in reconciling.
8. Give Them Both Opportunities to Share: At the reconciliation meeting I usually have them both take turns sharing their side with each other and their heart and feelings about what happened. I try not to talk too much but listen and try to keep the meeting focused and on task not allowing them to go on a tangent or start arguing but keep them focused on reconciling with each other and forgiving one another. It's good for you the leader to visualize how you want the meeting to flow before you go to be better prepared and also have a more organized meeting that has focus and a goal which is reconciliation.
9. Encourage Them to Forgive and Put It in the Past: Before we end our meeting I tell them both that now that they have forgiven each other they no longer can hold it against each other and need to put this in the past and move forward ahead not looking back to the past or hold a grudge but truly forgive and let it go. Although their hurt may take time to heal by explaining to them that true forgiveness is letting go we are holding them accountable to be reconciled and not continue in their anger and division any longer.
My whole view of reconciling the two parties is a necessity because the bible says that a house divided cannot stand. This encourages me and motivates me to be willing to do whatever I can to bring peace and reconciliation to the body of Christ. Reconciliation is a ministry that we have all been given and I hope these helpful tips will bless you and help give you more tools when dealing with conflict as a leader.
Filoiann M. Wiedenhoff is a pastor's wife,work at home mom, Womans Biblical Counselor, Bible Teacher and Writer. View her website for more articles http://filoiannwiedenhoff.com/
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