Conflicting Perspectives

In his book, Conflict: The Refining Fire of Leadership,  Jim Van Yperen states that leaders are necessary because of conflict (240).  Though this may be an overstatement, it is true conflict management is one of the primary reasons leadership is necessary within any organization.  A key to defining conflict is perspective.  For G. Douglass Lewis, “Conflict is two or more objects aggressively trying to occupy the same place at the same time” (Resolving Church Conflicts).  In my opinion though, Lewis’ definition implies negativity.

Conflict should be defined as differences or a “struggle” between two individuals, parties or within fractions of an organization seeking a particular vision, goal or objective.  Differences are a part of human nature, and effective leaders must learn “that conflict is an opportunity to solve common problems in a way that honors God and offers benefits to those involved” (The Peacemaker, Sande).  Yperen echoes these thoughts by declaring, “Conflict offers us the chance to grow, to change our minds and to create new commitments based upon the truth God reveals” (241).  Leaders must view conflict not as a hindrance or horror, but as a natural part of existing with an opportunity to grow, being a part of God’s redeeming plan.


~ by Dave Smith on August 4, 2008.

6 Responses to “Conflicting Perspectives”

  1. I spoke to a pastor recently who said that one of the things he enjoyed about his ministry was that he had no real significant conflicts, issues, or “people who didn’t like him”.

    I thought to myself – “you must not be working very hard then.”

  2. Heh, good point Anthony.

    Dave, I agree with everything you said in the second paragraph. Do you think that actually happens in churches? In my experience, conflict is rarely handled constructively.

  3. Actually, I have seen it work in such a manner…but don’t assume it ia always like that. I feel three things are magnified within church conflict: 1) power hungry leaders, 2) people unable to hear criticism with their identity attached to their ideas, 3) power-hungry leaders.

    (on vacation right now, so sorry for the delay)

  4. are you working on vacation? that is so not like you 🙂

  5. In my opinion most conflict comes from perspective. I heard a great quote the other day on NPR “we don’t see the world as it is…we see the world as we are.” So power hungry leader or someone with their identity tied to their ideas, they both have a personal “grid” everyting gets filtered through. When too much self and not enough God is in that grid…Conflict will always be the result. 😦

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