Conflict: The Choice Leaders Make Every Day
Each day, leaders have a choice: they can judge members of their team or they can value each member’s uniqueness. When a staff member regularly questions your approach, how do you respond? The choice you make determines whether your team lives or dies.
Let’s check back in on Don and Mark from our previous articles – pastors serving together on a church staff. Tension is rising. The two men take opposite approaches to solving problems and managing change. Their differences are taking a toll. Don, the lead pastor, is more aggressive and wants change to happen now. When a problem arises, Don wants to deal with it immediately and move on. Mark, the executive pastor, is more reflective. He studies all aspects of the issue before choosing a course and a well-defined plan. Don finds himself saying, “We do not have time to analyze this!” while Mark responds, “We must take the time to make sure we solve the problem ‘right’ the first time.”
The Choice Leaders Make: To Judge or To Value
Don is at a tipping point. What he decides to do with differences from this day forward will divide or unite. Will he make the effort to understand the differences between him and Mark and learn to value his colleague’s strengths? Or will Don throw up his hands in frustration and say, “We just can’t work together”?
Don’s choice is your choice.
What a Leader’s Decision Reveals
This momentous choice exposes a leader’s underlying attitude about people. If Don cannot come to the place where he appreciates Mark’s deliberate thoughtfulness – a gift God has given Mark – he will judge him as a less valuable team member. Soon, Don will believe that a quick decision-maker like himself brings more value to the staff than Mark. Pride and arrogance become this leader’s M.O. and he soon finds himself leading from a position of isolation – not a good place to be, nor a biblical one (Romans 12:3).
Will Don be able to recognize God’s sovereign scheme to gift individuals differently? “God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (1 Corinthians 12:18). That means God intentionally placed Mark with Don for specific reasons. To “arrange” means to set a plan into motion with deliberation. Staff members come together as a unit not by coincidence, but as part of God’s design.
Judging tears down the fabric of a staff, stirs up conflict, and creates isolation. Valuing others energizes them. Notice the difference in the two trajectories. Embracing God’s plan for differences as strengths brings unity and life into the staff.
Choices Have Powerful Consequences
The choice has overwhelming consequences. Some leaders seek understanding about differences so they can “change” others. But the real solution lies in embracing the differences God gave each of us. In doing so, God allows us to complement each other.
What choice will you make?