When we’re offended as leaders, it’s tempting to keep track of every jot and tittle – especially when it’s a long-standing, multi-layered conflict. We want to hold court and hold the offending party accountable for each aspect. But is that Jesus’ way?
In my early years of ministry, an offense from another ministry leader rose to the level of outside mediation. I was loaded for bear as the meeting drew near, having mentally rehearsed a year’s worth of difficulty. I was also prepared to own my wrongs and forgive the other person, provided we talked through each incident chronologically. To my surprise, the mediator didn’t lead us to relive and reiterate the past – he simply highlighted a few key events. He coached us to discuss them with the goal of understanding each other’s perspective. We took responsibility for our part and extended forgiveness. We affirmed each other. And God’s love broke through.
Somehow God’s grace filled in the gaps of the “undiscussed” issues – in the way that His love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). We left the meeting with a fresh commitment to rekindle our relationship.
1. Meet together. Seek God’s wisdom on the timing and participants. If a mediator is needed, ensure both parties agree to the person and the process. Aim for a face-to-face meeting whenever possible.
2. Narrow your focus. Ask God to help you distill your grievances into one or two primary areas. Working through these will take plenty of time and will provide sufficient footing to begin the restoration process.
3. Seek understanding. As you’re talking through differences, try to see them from the other person’s perspective. You’ll gain a broadened view of the situation and an appreciation for the other person’s lens and gifting.
4. Extend forgiveness. Ask forgiveness for your contribution to the problem, and offer forgiveness to the other person. Forgiveness is a powerful gift from the Lord. He first extends it to us, and then He enables us to give and receive it from others.
5. Release the rest. Let go of the plethora of conversations and minor offenses along the way. In the spirit of forgiveness and love for the other person – entrust it to the Lord. After all, He’s the only one who truly understands the scenario completely.
6. Commit to restoration. Discuss the next step you’ll take with the person toward renewing the relationship, and follow through. Allow God to reshape the relationship as He desires; it may look different from before.
As leaders, we try not to micromanage employees. Let’s not micromanage conflict either. Let’s deal with the overarching issues, let the rest go, and allow God’s powerful forces of grace, forgiveness, and love to mend the relationship. When you let go of an offense, you let go of a fence of division between you and another.
“When you let go of an offense, you let go of a fence of division between you and another.”- Lisa Hosler
“Love… doesn’t keep score of the sins of others.”
1 Corinthians 13:5c (The Message)
How has God helped you let go of offenses? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.