Practical Thoughts from ElderLink

March 27, 2006

Several hundred elders, ministers, and wives attended Saturday’s ElderLink program in Atlanta. Elders from at least five states in the southeast attended, and at least one from as far away as Colorado. The conference program included an opening and closing address by Randy Lowry (a two-part presentation titled “Five Strategies to Manage Difficult Moments”), along with four timeslots for breakout sessions, with four classes in each timeslot. The classes were all two-part presentations so that, if you went to both parts of each presentation, each attendee had an opportunity to hear two two-part topics. I found Randy Lowry’s presentations to be especially practical and relevant, so I will outline it here.

As the title suggests, there were five points of advice for handling conflict.

1) Think Chinese. In the Chinese written language the word for crisis is made up of two parts: danger and opportunity. The advice here is to look for the opportunity in the crisis.

2) Focus on the process. Rather than going straight to the answer (my instinct!) he advised us to focus on the process for arriving at a solution. “The right answer at the wrong time, presented in the wrong way, could be the wrong answer.” He pointed out that Jesus cares about process in conflict resolution (Matt 18).

3) Go below the line. He pictured the conflict resolution space as a piece of paper with a horizontal line drawn in the middle. Above the line are the issues and positions. Below the line are the interests of the various parties. Instead of simply identifying the issues and deciding on our position on the issues, we should draw out the interests that are motivating each participant in the dispute, and to find ways to satisfy those interests.

4) Take care of the three things all parties need. Each needs to be satisfied with:

  • the product (result / decision)
  • the process
  • the people (how they were treated)

5) Embrace God’s promises
Jesus prayed for unity in John 17, for the benefit of the world. There won’t be complete uniformity nor agreement on every subject. But there needs to be peace, and God will bring it about.

2 Chron 7:14 If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

This was an incredibly practical talk for me personally. I found myself needing to apply it within less than 24 hours after hearing the class! I sincerely appreciate the folks from ACU, Lipscomb, and the hosts at North Atlanta Church of Christ for providing this encouraging and practical resource in our area.

One comment

  1. […] Christian University providing support to elders in churches of Christ.  I’ve attended in four previous years, with this year being the […]

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