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An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which never yet existed.
—Thomas Jefferson
Conflict is: "A battle, clash, a disagreement of ideas or interests."

How many conflicts that were not managed properly have turned out to be an organizational split? It has been said that "if it wasn't for the people I would have a good organization."

Conflict doesn't have to be a negative thing. If managed correctly it can be an opportunity for great advancement. Conflicts that lead to problem identification and resolution can be effective for: surfacing prejudices and strife, diffusing emotion and anger; and locating character and maturity levels.

The following procedure for resolving conflict is designed to be general in nature. You can apply it whether the conflict involves yourself, dealing with a peer, someone under your authority or someone that you are under authority to.

Benefits of Constructive Conflict
- It identifies problems before they grow larger and disrupt the whole organization.
- It brings new ideas to the situation.
- It identifies the needs and desires of individuals.
- It challenges people to think through their feelings and position and become workable with others.

Conflict Resolution
  1. You are attacked
    (a) Stop and pray. You don't have to immediately defend yourself.
    (b) Look for blind spots in yourself that you may not be aware of.
    (c) Pray for the other party and identify what their needs are.
    (d) If the conflict continues, act on it quickly before it mushrooms.
  2. Get agreements among the parties that there is a problem and there needs to be a resolution
    (a) Don't react but act as a mature Christian leader.
    (b) Resist plans of revenge and to recruit others to side with you.
    (c) Don't discredit them.
    (d) Make sure you are seeking resolution with a humble and sincere heart.
  3. Set the Ground Rules
    (a) A goal needs to be agreed upon.
    (b) Be a good listener.
    (c) Each person gets equal opportunity to express himself.
    (d) Be open and honest in communication.
    (e) No generalities. Be specific and support your comments with examples.
    (f) Control anger.
    (g) Be respectful.
    (h) Stay focused on the real issues.
    (i) All complaints must be supported by facts and not feelings.
    (j) Accept responsibility for the conclusion.
  4. Don't allow a defensive or threatening environment:
    (a) There is no room for anger here.
    (b) Use "I" whenever possible instead of "you."
  5. Gather and clarify all the facts
    (a) Most conflicts arise from simple misunderstandings.
    (b) Focus on the problem and not the person.
  6. Identify the boundaries that cannot be compromised so you don't jeopardize the goals and vision for your organization.
    (a) Separate the difference between what you want and what God has commissioned you to accomplish in your ministry.
  7. Agree on a compromise that will resolve the conflict
    (a) Don't rejoice if you seem to be the winner and the other party the loser.
    (b) If possible meet the need of the other person or people.
    (c) Be generous with thanksgiving and praise for them working out the conflict.

    When possible, encourage others to resolve the conflict independently, but with you present to give direction, feedback, and follow up when needed.

    Are there some potential conflicts in your staff or congregation? Is there a system in place to prevent possible conflicts and to resolve them quickly if some do happen?

    Don't let a conflict grow until it divides your congregation!

    "If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Rom. 12:18 AMP).

    Copyright © Jim Harper Ministries
    All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Jim Harper
Web site: Jim Harper Ministries
Jim ministers with an emphasis on teaching and facilitating unity among believers. For many years now his heart has been stirred to serve the Lord abroad with a calling to the Russian-speaking people wherever they may be. Jim has helped many in this people group to know Christ and grow in their relationship with Him. Jim has also worked in the Far East of Russia. There he assisted the Christian churches in the areas of growth and unity by giving counsel conducting seminars and leadership schools.

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