How do you look at conflict? I’m starting to see conflict as an opportunity for God to do a work in me and in those around me as we allow the Holy Spirit to apply Biblical truths to our lives as we work towards reconciliation.
Conflict shows our true colors, who or what is reigning in our hearts (James 4:1-3). Words, actions and reactions come from the overflow of the heart. The heart issues must be honestly dealt with to bring full resolution to conflict. These heart issues can easily be or become idols. Idols are anything put in the rightful place of our Holy Loving Creator God. Something or someone we loved more, trusted and depended on more, or allowed to reign in the place of our God. Idols are very deceptive and subtle. Many times conflict is not resolved because one or more of the parties to the conflict does not see the idols or will not repent of the idols.
Peacemaker Ministry in their Conflict Coaching and Mediation training, describes the development of idols in the heart through the ‘slippery slope of idolatry’, a six step process. It starts with a desire which may even be good and valid. This desire can easily become a demand once a person decides it is a personal right and need. At this point the demand becomes a personal expectation that others must meet or the person is disappointed. When disappointed, it is easy and natural to judge the other person because they did not treat us the way we expected. Judgment then leads to punishment of the offending party in many different ways from ignoring and not valuing them to verbally destroying them to murdering them. When the desire becomes a demand with expectation that may be disappointed; that desire has become an idol that is driving the person. This idol will usually be the log in their eye that must be removed to bring resolution to a conflict.
Let me share an example. As pastors, we have the desire to grow the church so more people will be mature in Jesus. A good desire! This desire can easily become an idol, when I demand and expect others to act and do things my way so that my expectation will be met. When people do not meet these expectations the way I think they should, I start to judge and punish them either by the way I treat them, what I say or what I tell others. See how a good desire can become an idol that is now driving me as a person and will cause conflict. Many times, idols are so subtle but must be dealt with to bring full resolution to the conflict.
In helping people to work through conflict, one responsibility is to help coach the parties in the conflict to discern if they have any idols that are driving the conflict. We must ask questions and share appropriate Scriptures through which the Holy Spirit can help the individual identify their idols. The Conflict Coaching and Mediation training and Reconciling Church Conflict training by Peacemaking Ministries has proven very beneficial in assisting me to consistently check my own heart, while learning how to help those in conflict work through their heart issues. I would like to encourage you as a pastors and leaders to send key individuals to the upcoming Peacemaking training events in our area in 2012 and learn how to develop Peacemaker Teams at your church.
Peacemaker Training Coming to Minnesota
Here is a good opportunity to take advantage of Peacemaker training that will be offered in or near our district in upcoming months:
- Metro area: Feb. 23-25 in Hudson, WI (Conflict Coaching, Mediation)
- Northwest and West Central: March 8-10 in Detroit Lakes (Conflict Coaching, Mediation)
- North and Northeast: April 26-28 in Duluth (Conflict Coaching, Mediation)
- District-wide: June 21-23 in Minneapolis (Reconciling Church Conflict)
We highly recommend this training for pastoral staff members and for lay leaders. Note: Peacemaker’s offers a significant discount when you register early. There is also significant reading to be completed before the training so it is beneficial to register early so check the Peacemaker’s web site and your calendar now.
The Conflict Coaching (one day) training is for those who have read The Peacemaker. It is an excellent course of training in basic conflict resolution, both for oneself and for others. Mediation training (two day) prepares individuals to engage in a formal process of reconciling conflict between other parties. (Conflict Coaching is a prerequisite.) Reconciling Church Conflict focuses on assisting a congregation is resolving conflicts (three day, Mediation training is a prerequisite.)
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