Like many pastors, I don’t like conflict. I try to avoid it when I can. But I won’t sacrifice everything to avoid it. Often I don’t like conflict because of the drama that is attached to the conflict. I really don’t like drama – that’s the real issue.
Drama is anathema (a good church word) to me.
But I have to ask myself – why? Why do I despise drama so much? I think I dislike drama because it is unnecessary and avoidable for one thing. Drama rarely ever needs to happen. Drama rarely is positive. It usually is destructive and so I see no value in it.
Drama happens when the lines of communication are broken. I don’t mean that in the sense that people aren’t talking with one another, as in something like radio silence – although that could be the case.
Rather, broken communications is more often incomplete communications – people withholding information from one another, either on purpose or unintentionally.
So why do I try to avoid conflict? Well, it’s complicated. I don’t think there is an easy answer to that. I have a background in politics. I’ve been through political conflict – a presidential impeachment. I’ve been in campaigns where there is deep conflict between campaigns – to the point of animosity. Maybe my wanting to avoid conflict is due to these experiences.
But again, this doesn’t mean that I will avoid conflict at all costs. Hardly. I think it’s more about trying other avenues, so coming to solutions that can be win-win situations. I have found that things are usually better when we can find something redeeming for both parties involved in a conflict if at all possible. It makes making peace much easier. It humanizes the one in which you are in conflict with.
Being in conflict doesn’t mean that the other person is evil or bad. They come to their conclusions for very good reasons, just like anyone else. Trying to find a win-win is merely acknowledging this idea.
When I think about conflict, I also think about Jesus. He was often in conflict with the religious figures of his day – the group of people who should have known better, but chose a different way. The leaders of that time had an all or none approach to life – either you fully submit or you are an outcast. That gets you compliance, but typically it is compliance meant to avoid punishment.
Conflict these days often seems unnecessary. It seems as though there are many who create conflict. To many it might be a form of entertainment or a distraction.
Conflict is a part of life. Drama, unfortunately, is too. These aren’t going away anytime soon.
At the same time, how we deal with them makes a big difference. My experience informs how I handle conflict and drama. I tend to be someone who prefers to deal with conflict sooner, rather than later – to not allow it to simmer. I find that simmering conflict leads to drama and worse outcomes. Dealing with it sooner doesn’t always have a happy ending, but it does get to the conclusion quicker so that life can go on.