The first time I had a major issue with a volunteer I tried to ignore it. I didn’t want to deal with the emotions or blame that would come with addressing the situation. I was so afraid of the situation that I even hoped other people would address it before me. I was a coward.
Eventually I sat down with the person and it didn’t go well. They were more upset that I had let so much time pass by instead of addressing the situation right away. I’d like to say that was the last time avoided conflict.
If there is unresolved tension in your ministry then you need to address it immediately. If you don’t it will eat you up and wear you out. You’ll waste countless hours trying to work around it and it can negatively impact the relationships you’ve worked hard to build.
I know you might be thinking, “Well, Chris I’m not that great at addressing conflict.” and I get it, no one really loves it, but if you want a healthy ministry you are going to have to learn how to address it by:
HAVING A GO TO ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
When you are in the midst of conflict it’s easy for everything to loom larger that it is. You need a fresh perspective who is going to give you unbiased advice. Identify people in your life that you trust to:
- Give you honest feedback
- Call you out when you are in the wrong
- Encourage you to make the right moves
Find these people before any conflict arises. Give them permission and discuss the ways you handle feedback best. Help them to get to know you better so that they can give you the best insight possible.
BUILDING MARGIN INTO YOUR LIFE
When you are moving quickly it’s easy to make mistakes. To handle conflict (and even cut down on it) appropriately build buffers into your life by:
- Investing in your quiet time with God.
- Protecting your time off from work.
- Putting together a clear calendar.
Build up your margin and watch yourself handle situations with a little more clarity.
STAYING FOCUSED ON GOD’S LOVE
Anytime we face conflict it’s easy to find blame with the person. We justify our actions and we judge the other person’s behavior. Instead of building resentment, which adds to the conflict, react with God’s love.
Look at them as a child of God who is in need of His love. Ask God to bless them continuously and mold your heart. The more you can approach someone with love the better you will treat them when addressing the conflict.
DEVELOPING A PLAN
Conflict is filled with emotion. On top of building your margin, having a partner and going with God’s love you need to have a well thought out plan. Decide:
- When you will approach them.
- Who will be in the room (Try to find someone neutral to balance the situation).
- What you will discuss.
- What your expectations for the outcome will be.
With a plan, you’ll have the opportunity to clearly articulate your concerns, share your feelings and develop a solution.
BE PREPARED FOR THEIR REACTION
Resolving conflict is a two-way street so even if you take these steps there is a chance the other person might not react in the way that you’ve hoped. You have to understand when you address conflict there might be:
- Embarrassment for behaving a certain way.
- Denial of their actions.
- Mourning that they’ve let you down.
Don’t let their reaction deter you from handling the situation. No matter the situation get ahead of addressing the conflict so that you can save your time and energy on doing what God’s called you to do.
How would you advise others to handle the conflict we face in ministry?