Leading a successful change process in a congregation, even a very traditional one, is possible. But to do so a leader must earn the right to make that change and partner with others to make it happen. Lone ranger leaders who ride into Dodge and transform an entire community exist only in the movies. In the reality of congregational life, we need a patient posse.
Conflict transformation is something more than conflict management or conflict resolution. The goal of conflict transformation, as Ron Kraybill explains, “is not only to end or prevent something bad but also to begin something new and good. Transformation asserts the belief that conflict can be a catalyst for deep-rooted, enduring, positive change in individuals, relationships, and the structures of the human community.”
The work of conflict transformation is not the work of putting Band-Aids on the wounds of conflict, or responding to conflict like a fire fighter. This work is about a way of life and the transformation of our culture to a culture of justpeace.
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If I am to be a builder of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation, I must remember to think small: peacebuilding and conflict transformation begins with recovery of peace and transformation in my own soul and with those around me; those nearest to me which cross my path.
As the Lenten journey unfolds, the tensions increase. The anxieties escalate. When Jesus gathers for the Last Supper and shares the cup and the loaf with His closest followers, there is tension in room, conflict in the room. Betrayal and denial are all a part of this Lenten story.
The alternative to extremes is a middle path that moves in-between and walks “the narrow ridge”. An alternative middle path is able to hold “paradoxical curiosity.” This middle path is a soulful, grounded, humble way that takes courage and strength to hold. It is the in-between space where the in-between conversations occur.
The minister, leader, counselor or facilitator does not take security for granted, nor does he or she use theory or theology to substitute for the encounter. The challenge is to be fully present in the “nothing else than process without getting lost in the abyss”
The path also requires letting go of hurt and wrongs inflicted in anxiety and conflict. Like Jacob and Esau, forgiveness and reconciliation are a journey. I will see in the eyes of those that I have been blaming heartaches that look and feel very much like my own. In their struggles, stumbles, failures and celebrations, I see my own.
Audio: Stephanie Anna Hixon, the Executive Director of JustPeace, and Darrel Puls from Peacebridge Ministries speak about ACR Conference 2014 Workshop Session: Rebuilding Harmony in Houses of Worship: Resolving Conflicts in Religious Communities.
Below are some links to articles, videos and stories that JustPeace staff have enjoyed this week. We hope you enjoy them too!
To want to run away is an essence of being human. It transforms any staying through the transfigurations of choice. To think about fleeing from circumstances, from a conflict, marriage, relationship, work, a ministry or congregation is part of the conversation itself and helps us understand the true distilled nature of our own reluctance.
When individuals and groups are aware of the shadow, their own and others, they are more accepting, forgiving, compassionate and loving, acting for justice while having mercy, honor and humility. To change the shape of ourselves is to change the shape of the shadow we carry and cast. To become transparent is to know, accept and relate to one’s shadow appropriately. I have heard people say that we can lose our shadows altogether, but I think to be human is to carry a shadow