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Leadership requires a commitment to solving conflict.

There is a big difference between talking with someone and talking about someone. Yet Christian organizations, churches, and families are full of people talking behind each other’s backs. When conflicts arise—and they will—as leaders we frequently skirt around the necessity of dealing directly with each other.

We may develop unhealthy patterns of response when we want to avoid conflict: we retreat into prayer to the neglect of communications, we work out ways to avoid the person, or we get as many people in the office as possible on our side. If we are observers of the conflict, we often ignore the situation as much as possible.

But it doesn’t help to close our mouths. And for those in leadership positions in the church, this is simply not an option.

Jesus called the peacemakers blessed. And he said that they would be called “sons of God.”

Courage to Step into the Uncomfortable Places

Yes. Communication is hard. And those who solve conflict deserve some praise. But since the process of conflict solving is painful, we often don’t receive much credit—at least in the middle of the process.

So, if you want to help people, you need to lean into the pain and help people to communicate with each other.

Recently, I was on a conference call with some guys who are wanting to launch an alliance. During the call, we kept talking on and on. Finally, I said, “Guys, I think you two need to sit down because you’re both hemming and hawing around this central question.” I defined the central issue and asked, “Are you on the same page of this? Do you agree to this basic fundamental issue?”

The answer was no. So I told them that before another conversation took place, they …

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