Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Conflicting Emotions

Had an interesting experience where my worlds collided this my past life as a lawyer I often found myself in a negotiation role - in recent years, I have taught negotiation skills in a post graduate capacity to fund the pastoring passion that is my vocation deal - which brings me to the collision of worlds. We recently found ourselves in conflict with another church - now the cynic in me says its all about patch protection - as the new kids on the block (considers banal boy band joke) we dared to start a community ministry which runs parallel to another church's ministry (actually quite innocent and very much a home grown initiative rather than a copy cat effort). Anyway, faced with an escalation of incendiary emails from another local pastor we called timeout on the written diatribe and went for a visit.

It proved to be an interesting meeting - one where I found that a constructive problem solving negotiation strategy is just as useful in ministry as it is in law if preserving relationships is an underlying goal. What was also similar was the familiar positional style of the other pastor - reminded me of a lot of lawyers I've met! There was a difference though for me - it felt good to be using those skills in a genuine "peacemaking" role (remind me sometime to digress on the very dangerous but similar sounding "peaceloving" topic) and to see God work where we give Him a toehold of grace with which to work. There will be some tense times ahead I suspect but the downhill slide of relationship breakdown was halted.

A book I am reading right now titled "The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team" resonated throughout. While not directly on point the author redefines trust along the lines of a decision not to think the worst of somebody as opposed to the more familiar reliance that follows a track record of consistent behaviour. I couldn't help but wonder if when churches (re)act competitively and aggressively as in this situation, they blow the likelihood of real Kingdom building collaboration occuring between local churches. Maybe God led us to do what we did? Maybe we could have worked together? It will be enlightening to see what happens next...

I also discovered: I still hate conflict! Oh well.


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