I received an email from an interim pastor of a church asking for my advice on how to resolve issues in a public setting. At a church meeting he had been accused of trying to turn the church into a “seeker sensitive” church. He was trying to help the church grow from being myopic and ingrown to looking beyond their church walls and helping others.
As a leader you will have to resolve many issues. The way a leader responds to conflict in public will either bring healing and teaching, wholeness and maturity, or it will polarize people and cause them to start taking sides.
Here are four principles that will assist you in resolving issues in a public situation:
Do not pull rank. Although Jesus is the Creator of the universe He very seldom pulled rank on anybody. As the pastor of the church be careful not to demean people in public because the result is polarized people and the church will split. There will be times you have to make an executive decision-but make it, as much as you can, with much grace.
Discussion v.s. Decision
There is a difference between and discussion and decision. The word “discussion” is akin to the word “percussion” which comes from the Latin word “percutere” defined as beating and throwing a subject back and forth. The purpose of discussion is buy-in and ownership. If you are in a meeting and you’re discussing an issue, don’t move into a decision too quickly otherwise people have not yet bought-in to the issue.
Always give value. Try your best to see the situation from the other person’s perspective (as they see it). This will diffuse your emotional anger and discouragement. In a discussion with someone under your covering, give value by trying to remedy or reprove but never through a reprimand. Work hard on speaking with authority but without demeaning the person.
Discernment is a very important gift that you must ask God for. Sometimes people say one thing but there is a deeper meaning or hurt. “Lord, what is actually being said? Am I discerning what the person is saying?”
Ask God for a word picture. If you need to make an explanation, a word picture will clarify things. When David sinned with Bathsheba, Nathan came up with a word picture. Jesus used parables to explain the Kingdom of God. Word pictures are parables or a parallel illustration of every day life that gives principles to help resolve the situation or move towards an agreement to overcome a mental roadblock.
A word picture may have been helpful for the interim pastor mentioned earlier in this article. Perhaps he could share a word picture about children growing up and helping others in correlation to the church helping others, “When my children were young we did everything for them. We protected them, resourced them, loved them, and did everything for their welfare. By the time our children were 14 years old, it was time to ask them to start giving back and take some responsibility. It is the same in the church family. It isn’t that we’re changing the church to be seeker sensitive. Let’s help each other grow this through this season. It’s not an exclusion of nurturing. Those who have been nurtured need to get out and nurture others as well. And this is my heart for the church.”
Move forward to advancement. Factor in what the person is saying, discuss and work toward getting buy-in.
These four principles will help you immensely when it comes to resolving issues – something leaders will have to do. Always try to bring healing and teaching, wholeness and maturity. The end result will be a better culture in your group, department, family and church.