Conflict resolution is perhaps the most poignantly necessary skill in the formation of communities. As we turn now into a time of global communication and the necessity of conflict resolution on a global scale, the microcosms of congregations and personal relationships can be an incredible learning ground for relationship. As we struggle to serve humanity as a whole and fight injustice, we will inevitably come up against conflict, and it is of utmost importance that we develop a tolerance for living in the tension and persevering despite the discomfort. Perhaps, “getting through a conflict” could better be thought of as “enduring change.”
Having the skills to work through conflict has implications for our every corner of our lives: loving and deep relationships in our families and neighborhoods, living together harmoniously as a congregation, working through issues of prejudice and opinion that stand in the way of living into our commitment to justice, and making sure that our local and national governments are running smoothly enough to respond to the need of their citizens. I assume that we all have had experiences of lasting and fracturing conflict that could have been resolved with perseverance and commitment to communication.
Conflict resolution affects every part of my ministry, for our world is vast and varied and everyone’s got a stake in it. Tolerance for conflict and wisdom in the face of disagreement are two life-long aspirations of mine. I commit myself to conflict resolution not because I enjoy it, but because it is so utterly necessary for a healthy community that continues to be relevant to it’s people. Discomfort and conflict are so necessary for any transformation, period! It is not my wish to have a congregation free of conflict, but rather a community that works on it’s communicating and listening skills as part of spiritual practice.