Conflict Engagement

Conflict avoidance is a self-protection mechanism. We naturally run from a fire. We might watch an argument from afar, but don’t want to get caught in the middle.

However, one of the things I’ve learned working at the Church for All People is to engage conflict instead of running away from it. Up until now, I saw this as a leadership responsibility. I recently had an encounter that made me rethink the motivation of placing myself in the midst of conflict.

A woman told me that one of the thing she liked about me is that I don’t turn the other way when she comes around. She said, most people try to avoid her, but I always talk to her. She is not always the easiest person to talk with, which is why I make an extra effort to give her attention. 

I was surprised by the impact my engagement had on this woman. 

I received her compliment as a gift of grace.

It struck me that being willing to put ourselves in difficult places is where we encounter God.

Many Christian theologians speak of experiencing God in suffering. Richard Rohr understands the process of going through suffering as the key to spiritual development. 

If we find God in suffering it only stands that when we place ourselves in the midst of suffering that God is there.

The book of James says that if we draw near to God that God draws near to us. We normally think of drawing near in a time of prayer, worship, or reading scripture. But if we most clearly experience God in suffering, when we place ourselves in the midst of conflict, we find God is there. 


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