Mike McKinley posted a sampling of his notes from Mike Minter’s one day seminar entitled Stay the Course. Here is Mike Minter’s Anatomy of a Conflict:
1. An offense occurs.
2. A biased view of the offense is shared with friends.
3. Friends take up the offense.
4. Sides begin to form.
5. Suspicion on both sides develop.
6. Each side looks for evidence to confirm their suspicion. You can be sure they will find it.
7. Exaggerated statements are made.
8. In the heat of conflict those involved hear things that were never said and say things they wish they had never said.
9. Third parties, no matter how well intentioned, can never accurately transfer information from one offended party to the other.
10. Past offenses unrelated to the original offense surface.
11. Integrity is challenged.
12. People call each other liars.
13. Those who try to solve the problem (e.g., church leadership) are blamed for not following the proper procedure and become the new focus.
14. Many are hurt.
McKinley observes that once an issue gets to step five, it is almost impossible to stop the nosedive. Why? There is a sense in which conflict unites the team that agrees and to backtrack on the conflict is to jettison the camaraderie of the team that everyone is now enjoying so much.
What’s the solution? When you find yourself in step number one, stop and think. When you get caught in a conflict, and you will often in life, listen to Jesus and obey Him (see the scriptures listed below). Most conflicts you can forbear and overlook in grace, but when you can’t, follow the protocol Jesus outlines. It works.
But whatever you do, don’t ever get to step number two, i.e., avoid presenting a biased view to others that are not a part of the conflict. Go immediately to the one who has committed the offense and work out the problem in humble communication with one another.
Peace is not the absence of conflict. Peace is when conflict is handled respectfully and effectively.
23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-24).
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector (Matthew 18:15-17).