By LISA M. HANCOCK
There’s no shame to experience conflict in God’s house. If we believe God created each of us as unique individuals, how could we not realize we have distinct views, perspectives and interpretations of life events?
Looking at conflict as inevitable and neither right or wrong takes the stigma off disagreements within our church community. But when we look only at our differences, we can lose sight of what we have in common. Isn’t it our call to love each other, strengthen the church and glorify God through the turmoil?
Some of us wonder how can we have conflict within the church. Don’t we love each other enough? My response is: That is exactly why we have conflict in the church!
It is because we are a community that allows our different voices and opinions to be heard, and we do not always see or hear the same way. Conflict allows us to come to a crossroads. This fork in the road is a place where we can be inclusive and curious or closed and dogmatic. There is always an opportunity. A possibility to be gentle and respectfully listen to each other, to respond to each other rather than react, and to seek to understand what we each need to move forward.
In moving forward, we must expect conflict. Name it and explore it through dialogue, feedback and evaluation. Invite conflict, because all conflict is not bad. Exploit conflict. It is the stuff of growth, change and progress. Learn from it and help others learn. Use disagreement to learn more about yourself, others and God.
Or don’t. But the alternative is unacceptable, and more important, let’s not allow conflict to define and divide us.
Lisa M. Hancock is a mediator and member of the Center for Leadership Development’s Congregational Assessment, Response, and Transformation Team, or CART, for the North Texas Conference.