Reflections from the Leadership Team

Published on Sep 8th, 2022 by wpd-office | 0

Behaving our way out of dilemma

Management guru Stephen Covey is credited with the assertion that you can’t talk your way out of a problem that you behaved your way into. Interesting observation.

I was recently given an article titled “How to Turn Any Disagreement into a Nasty Fight in Your Congregation.”[1] It was a rather amusing spin on how we behave, or shouldn’t, when we encounter disagreement. Among the listing of behaviors that turn things nasty are these: Use no names, refer to everyone in third person. Have a small frustrated and relatively unknown sub-group introduce an idea into the largest possible group, and if possible, introduce sensitive subjects without warning. Use communication instruments that allow people to avoid communicating directly. Give as much air time as possible to those whose opinions are the most polarized, with particular attention to those who feel personally aggrieved. Encourage one-upsmanship as a primary strategy for getting others to do what you want. Use meetings as places where others are given opportunity to vent or blow off steam. Find nothing in another’s point of view that you can affirm or agree with.

Is there anything in the above paragraph that seems vaguely familiar? I suppose I could undertake an exegesis of the list, but I presume any such sermonette is comically self-evident. Many in district leadership have been reading David Brubaker’s book When the Center Does not Hold: Leading in an Age of Polarization.[2]  Slow though the process may seem, we have been trying to integrate his thinking into our life together in Western Plains. As one consultant with whom we’re familiar puts it, we need to go slow in order to go fast. Seeing things through the eyes of others and assessing our own behavior accordingly takes reflection, and self-reflection takes time. Progress is happening. We have two major teams working on various aspects of our challenges, and are thinking of a third which will explore an integrated approach to working together in new ways, new behaviors, new initiatives for how we are the Body of Christ in the Western Plains.

Let’s think of ourselves as being on a journey of hope, hope for what we yet may become. Let’s not think of that as a suffering journey, but even if it is, suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5:3-4). It may just as easily be seen as a joyful journey, a spirited time in which we engage each other personally, and look for interests we share as much as for positions we don’t.  And if we can laugh at and with ourselves once in a while in the process, so much the better!

[1] Ian Evison, originally published in Congregational Resource Guide, circa 2004.

[2] David Brubaker, et al., When the Center Does not Hold, Fortress Press, 2019

Lowell Flory
District Leadership Team Chair

Comments are closed.