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November 17, 2009

Re-Thinking Conflict

“If you had a whole day free what would you do?”

The question came to me in a small group setting, and the answer came immediately to mind: “I’d go somewhere beautiful to sit and think.” You see, I’m addicted to thinking.

Though I can’t go somewhere beautiful for the day right now I have been thinking. Thinking about conflict. I’ve googled for the definition, for quotes, and for concepts. I’ve asked people what comes to mind when they hear the term and interestingly enough there are a lot of different answers.

One insight recently came when I noticed the words combined with conflict like “manage,” “avoid,” “quickly resolve.” I bring this up because all writers and readers know that conflict is essential to the plot when you talk about story. Without conflict there’s no plot, no movement, and nothing interesting in the story.

But I don’t typically think that way about the story of my life or the plotline of my leadership. I’ve tended to spend large amounts of energy managing, avoiding, and quickly getting rid of conflict.

http://www.synergytoday.orgSo here’s my recent thought, “Would it serve me better to think of “conflict” as essential if not “holy ground”? That’d be a twist.

As a leader my default mode is to think the plot of the “story” for my team or me is accomplishing the task at hand. Though we all have goals to meet I am starting to massage the idea that the conflict I engage—whether internally or externally, positive or negative—may be more important in shaping the kingdom of God within me than most of my efforts to shape the kingdom of God outside of me.

I’m not alone in my thoughts, as I read this week a quote from Donald Miller about stories that resonate: “Without the conflict the character can’t change. The conflict drives the story because it drives transformation. “

There you have it; conflict is the “holy ground” of transformation. The very thing I avoid will actually take me to the very thing I long for. I’ve got an unending ache for those I know and our world at large to experience transformation. Myself included. In order to get there I think my first step is to re-think how God uses conflict in the story to shape our souls.
To do that I’m heading to the upcoming Synergy2010 conference: “Conflict in the Story: The Shaping Of A Leader’s Soul.”

It’s a weekend where the speakers, Carolyn Custis James, Michelle Lloyd-Paige, and Scott McKnight, along with many workshop presenters will explore this theme in ways that will help my team and me understand ourselves as leaders along with the task at hand.

Consider joining me if you looking to re-think conflict.


Good post!
But Angel ... I dashed over here when I saw the title looking for a solution to conflict and while you did share a new way to look at conflict, I wanted solutions! But I have to go to Chicago for the solution?
There is a solution, right???

Thanks for this - I will be rethinking conflict, but viewing it as holy ground, that's going to be hard.

btw ... this is Janet Oberholtzer II

Love what you wrote Angel. This subject has been of interest to me for 20 yrs +. I am convinced we miss much of what God wants to deliver to us, and what he wants us to represent, because of unhealthy view of conflict. ....
Ken Sande in his book Peacemaker, refers us to stewardship, and says conflicts are 'management opportunities'. We are to engage and steward, and manage all to glorify of God.
Love that perspective.
thanks, you encouraged me.

What doesn't kill us, strengthens us! Conflict is painful, unpleasant and unavoidable. Yet, as Christ-followers, we are called to grow in His grace and as Angel so eloquently points out conflict is one of the surest ways to grow. A difficult concept to explain to young believers and non-believers who want to know why bad things happen to "good" people.

Great post, Angel!

Great stuff, Angel. Just what I needed.

Hey am just similar like you.Sometimes I am also addicted to thinking.This is really an interesting post to read about your thoughts and I like that you share this with us.

Is it possible that viewing conflict in the manner exprssed here keeps "everyone" accountable?

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