Members of the High School Cohort met for a pre-Edvance Educators Annual Gathering meeting on October 23, 2019, at Hamilton District Christian High School. Attendees came from Windsor, Ottawa, Fort Erie, and from many points in between.
Our discussion topic was conflict. Sometimes we are the ones mediating conflicts. Sometimes we are part of the conflict, or even the cause. We are told that conflict is good for an organization and for us individually. We have probably all seen occasions where it might be good. But at the end of the day, conflict situations are hard to get excited about.
Jim Van Yperen (of Metanoia Ministries, www.restoringthechurch.org) was our speaker for the afternoon, and began by stating there is no such thing as conflict management. We don’t manage conflict. Conflict is a healthy part of life and provides opportunities for redemptive conversations. That sound like a much better job description: I don’t manage conflict; I lead redemptive conversations! Jim’s message was simple: reconciliation is a way of life.
Jim led us through an understanding of conflict by explaining its dynamics.. We discussed that conflict reveals our stories, and that conflict occurs when what a person wants is threatened. Threat produces emotion, and unchecked emotions produce quick-fix solutions. Conflict gets complex when we enter a cycle of antagonism–essentially, it takes two sides with unmet wants threatened and unchecked emotions where quick-fix solutions have made things worse.
Thinking of our own specific conflict stories, Jim explained several essential skills we need to in order to lead redemptive conversations. At the heart of these skills lies the New Testament instruction to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)—an expression we are familiar with but may not have considered deeply. Speaking the truth in love means not overemphasizing love (passive and evasive) and not overemphasizing truth (defensive and aggressive). Redemptive skills require us to be present in love, to attend to our emotions, to choose responsibility, and to ask and submit.
A few of the other takeaway items included:
- Put love in your heart when having difficult conversations
- Be open to understanding where the other person is coming from
- Recognize the hard humility of asking forgiveness
- Invest time in your love by building relationships
Based on feedback I received from our group, Jim would be an excellent resource for any cohort meeting. We ended our day at the Ancaster Old Mill where we enjoyed great food and excellent company.