Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Five Approaches to Conflict

Barbara and I attended a marriage seminar last week. One real eye opener for me was a one hour class on conflict. The instructor is a professor at Kings College and Seminary, Dr. Wess Pinkham. He has decades of experience as a conflict mediator. My little summary here will not do him justice. But I want to write it up if only for my own edification:

He taught that there are five approaches to conflict. The last one I will name, collaboration, is often held up as the best approach. When I worked as a corporate drone this was always exalted as the win/win approach. The instructor urged us to see each of the five styles as valid in certain situations. This is not situational ethics. It is using different approaches to conflict resolution depending on the situation. He went on to give examples of how Jesus had used each of the five styles during his ministry, as recorded in the gospels. Here is my summary:

1. I'll get out. Avoid. see John 11: 45-57
2. I'll get them. Fight for your side. Win/Lose see Mark 11: 15-18
3. Compromise. Meet halfway. see Luke 20: 1-8
4. Accommodate. Give in. see Matthew 5: 38-42
5. Collaborate. Win/Win see John 8: 3-11

I don't know whether this material is original to Dr. Pinkham, but he did a great job of presenting it and explaining it. Here are three statements he made that are listed in order of how easy they are for me to believe (starting with the easiest):

- Conflict reveals the soul. (Ouch, all too true)
- Thank God for breakdowns. They lead to breakthroughs.
- Conflict can be a miracle moment for ministry. (This is a new way
for me to look at conflict)
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