Recently I’ve had four different, difficult conversations that involved setting boundaries, or saying something that was honest but really hard to say, or confronting totally inappropriate behavior, etc.
I hated it. I’m good at it, but I hated it.
No one enjoys conflict—or should, anyway—because it’s complicated and messy and makes our guts twist into little ribbons. It’s also something to approach carefully because the line between “confronting in love” and just being a jerk can be a fine one. (Boundaries are like PMS—real, but used as an excuse for lots of bad behavior.)
Yet the Bible is full of examples of God doing this—saying hard things, demonstrating both truth and grace, setting limits, allowing people to experience the consequences of their actions.
Unfortunately, the difficult-ness often wins out over the biblical-ness and we are all guilty of avoiding the conflict and hoping it will go away. Of course, it rarely does and often surfaces to cause much bigger problems later.
I’ve written about this before, but I think it needs more attention, especially in the church world.
As Stephen Simpson writes in a recent Rethink Monthly article,
“In my fifteen years as a psychotherapist, I have encountered few human systems so consistently dysfunctional as church staffs. I’ve heard of pastors doing things that would make the most ambitious CEOs blush. Though most of us only hear about this when a high-profile church leader’s grandiosity leads to recklessness, most of the time acrimony and dysfunction continue behind the scenes for years.”
So I’ll be blogging more frequently about these topics. It won’t be every week, but it will be a new recurring feature—starting next week with the humbling example of a friend confronting me.
In the meantime, tell me what you think. Is this a problem for you, your church, your workplace? Why do we struggle in these areas? What topics should we discuss here?