By Elaine Vitikainen
Why are personnel conflicts so difficult to handle in a Christian organisation? A former colleague often said how much easier it was to deal with conflict when he was working with a secular organisation. Some cultures make it even harder to handle conflict positively. I was born and raised in the Philippines and have always been taught to overlook mistakes and avoid conflict as much as possible.
I was recently part of an organisational assessment process. Some real issues of conflict were surfacing. An individual spoke up, saying, ‘We should stop talking about this now and simply love one another’. The others assented saying, ‘Yes, this is what God commands us’. While loving one another is what Jesus requires of us, how is love best expressed in a situation of conflict? How many conflicts have gone unresolved because we don’t talk about it? Do we too easily sweep conflict under the rug using the excuse of love? Sometimes it is more loving to try to resolve conflicts rather than pretend they are not there.
In my experience, when a conflict is not properly resolved or understood, it comes back and hunts us down. It is not easy to talk about conflict, but in the long run it may be good for us. If we do not share our feelings of hurt, frustrations and disappointment with others, bitterness and hatred can set it. But when we deal with conflict in Christ-like manner, allowing grace to overflow, we will experience peace and reconciliation. It is important for each of us to be able to confess, to repent and to be reconciled rather than to keep unspoken conflict inside us. In this way, we can be healed and restored; we can learn from the conflict. Dealing with conflict enables us to become more healthy and effective as organisations.
Are there conflicts in your organisation that need to be resolved? How will you resolve them?