Tag: carefront

Conflict Part 4: You need mentors!

The key to learning how to handle conflict well is having good mentors. How to work through conflict in a way that puts the relationship and growth as the priority is an art. Books and reading can only take you so far. The Apostle Paul gave instructions for people to help other people out through conflict. For the last post, here is a human-ography (bibliography) for the Conflict series. In a real sense, this series was over 10 years in the making.

Carefront: Pastor Matthew
Pastor Matthew did 2 critical things: 1) He waked me through conflict as I started out in pastoral ministry. 2) He taught me how carefronting is living out what the Bible expects of us. I gleaned the term carefront from him. Words mean things, and carefront sets the proper tone for handling conflict.

O.I.C.: Dr. Wilhite, Peterson, Dr. Austin
These gentlemen developed a process for handling conflict that works on a variety of age groups, uses the side door, and understands that conflict is part of our growth. A key often left out is the “how.” O.I.C. gave me the “how” of conflict. Many can tell you what to do, but how is important. These gentlemen gave me the how.

Q1: Pastor Jake
Years of experience and walking with God through conflict is a gold mine. That is Pastor Jake. He would often remind me that “God is the one who grants repentance.” Counseling people through conflict and issues has its own pace. Rushing conflict because we want to get it over with is dangerous. Pacing is an art involving great wisdom and relying on God. It needs prayer. Everyone needs a Pastor Jake.

Q2 & Q3: Dr. Jeffery
In a seminary chapel on handling conflict in marriage, President Jeffery gave us a chart. On each axis stood one of the questions. In the upper right corner was a dark circle called the “The region of conflict.” He took the chapel the explain the tool and how to gauge when or if we should carefront. He developed or learned of the tool in his years of pastoral ministry.

The bottom line:
Conflict is a reality of life. We cannot avoid it. To navigate these growth opportunities well you need mentors who will guide you and give you the tools and faith needed. Mentors are the difference between a light at the end of the tunnel and the light above the dentist chair. Mentors give us the hope as they equip us to be like Christ in and through conflict. They are the light God uses at the end of the tunnel because they’ve been there.’’

To my mentors, thanks!

Conflict Part 3: A method of carefronting

I carefronted two boys who were fighting. Going through the three questions of the last post, it was a clear and urgent matter to carefront them. The story turns out they were just playing like they do at home. They were not scared or rattled because they were carefronted. I avoided a mountain. Here is how it went down: O.I.C.: Observation, Interpretation, Clarification.

While I am using an example involving older children, I find the difference between adults and children is smaller than we would like to admit. I had similar conversations with adults.

Observation is stating the facts of what we saw or heard. Not what we think the facts are, but exactly the facts as we have observed. Stating what we observe is foundation for our interpretation. This is critical because we may not have all the facts, or we may be wrong in how we interpret the facts.

“Boys, I saw that you were fighting. Punching, hitting, pushing, and you looked mad at each other.”

Interpretation is what we believe based on the facts we observed. Even if we have all the facts, we may be wrong. It is important to differentiate the facts from what we believe. If I am sure of the situation, I only give what I believe- the negative situation. If I am not as sure or if it is not a huge deal, I give both a positive and a negative interpretation. In this step state what you believe, why you believe it, and the possible consequences of this. This is about care.

“Boys, from what I saw it leads me to believe something is wrong that caused you to fight in anger. Fighting is an wrong way to handle these issues. It is grounds for being suspended or can create a negative view of you.”

Clarification is the side door. It starts the conversation by putting the ball in the other person’s court. It allows the person to have a voice and speak to the situation. Clarification makes it about the person and not the issue. It seeks to understand and help, not point out and accuse. Clarification starts with a question followed by careful listening followed by a conversation. The key to clarification is to listening, not proving your point.

“Boys, could you clarify this, please?”
“We fight like this at home.”
“Yeah, we always play rough. We weren’t fighting, we were just playing.”
“Seriously? You were just playing?”
“Yes, sir,” they replied.
“Could you explain to me how this is playing and not fighting?”
“We were playing army.”
“Do you see how I and others believed you were fighting?”vI asked with arms folded.
“What should or could you do differently next time.”
“Not punch each other….” (Their feedback was much longer.)
“Alright. I get boys often like to play rough, but you need to be wise in how you play. You demonstrated poor discernment here. I’ll need to talk with you parents to verify this. You’re not in trouble… What have you learned?”
“We need to be aware of others around us…”
“You’re smart boys. I’m glad you’re here. Let’s get back outside.”

I talked with both the parents and the story checked out. They liked to play rough, the parents were also working on what was appropriate with them and were thankful for how the situation was handled.

Bottom line:
Even with relying on God, being completely solid in the importance of the issue and I was correct in my view of it, I was wrong. Carefronting strengthened the relationship and all parties involved grew as a result. Carefronting dealt with the issue clearly and upfront, but in a way that put the relationship first. Carefronting is about reconciliation not justice. O.I.C. is a way to carefront that uses the side door.

Conflict Part 2: When to carefront

In the last post we compared carefronting with confronting. In this post we will look at when to carefront. There are three questions to consider.

Q1: Am I relying on God in this matter?
This is a yes-no question. We must face the reality that you and I can change no one. Only God can change people. Paul gives these instructions to Timothy in regards to carefronting. Remember this: God is the one who grants repentance. Also note the tone Paul prescribes for us.

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Maybe people hate conflict because we do not rely on God nor carefront out of kindness and patients. The power of carefronting is not in what we know. The power of carefronting is the Spirit.

Q2: One a scale of 1-5, how big of a deal is it?
“Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill.” Seriously ask yourself how big of a deal is the matter of concern. If everything is a 5, please, lighten up! The Bible teaches us that love covers a multitude of sins. The Bible also teaches that there is a “sin not leading to death” where we can pray on someone’s behalf and God will forgive them. (1 John 5) Sometimes carefronting is about putting something to rest in your own mind.

In the last post we talked about seeds not Redwoods. The idea is dealing with something before it becomes a problem.  If the matter is a big deal, that it will cause friction in the relationship, then one should carefront appropriately and based on the next question.

Q3: One a scale of 1-5, how sure am I that I’m right?
Carefronting is about an attitude of humility. Seriously ask yourself if you are right about the matter of concern. If you always mark yourself as 5, please do a Bible study on humility! This question is to help determine when to carefront. It is not about how strong of a case you have. If you rank yourself as a 1, then be very cautious and light in how you carefront. If you’re a 5, be cautious as you may still be wrong.

When working at a day camp I saw two boys in a physical fight. While the process was quick in my head, here is how it played out.

Q1: Was I relying on God? Yes! As an adult God placed me in a position to help shepherd kids. Conflict is an opportunity for growth. Whether it happens or not is God’s deal.

Q2: Is it a big deal? 5! A physical fight is grounds for dismissal as it is inappropriate and not safe. It is clearly in the wrong and not an appropriate way to handle conflict by the two boys.

Q3: Am I right? 5! I saw the fight start. I am well aware of the rules of the camp, my role and how to appropriately handle conflict.

Outcome: Based on the three questions it was clear I needed to carefront them. The story turned out that they were friends and they often roughhoused. They were not fighting, they were playing. Were they shaken up because I carefronted them? No. I explain why in the next post.

Bottom line:
Gage whether or not you should carefront someone. Love puts up with a lot. There are times when it is clear the matter should be addressed. Remember, though, it is God who grants repentance.

Conflict Part 1: Carefront or Confront?

Few people like conflict. It makes us feel uneasy, uncomfortable, nervous, scared. Conflict ranks just below teaching the Bible and prayer in top ministry activities. This week we will be looking at some principles related to conflict and how to manage it. Today, we will look at Carefronting vs Confronting. This addresses the mindset we have in conflict.

The difference
Goal: Reconciliation
Focus: Loving the person
Attitude: Humility or concern
Approach: Demonstrates concern for the person, seeks understanding

Goal: Justice
Focus: Changing the person
Attitude: Anger or pride
Approach: Demonstrates concern for the issue, seeks retribution

What carefronting is not
Carefronting is not the absence of: anger, the need for change, justice or frustration. Those things are natural to conflict. Carefronting does not mean one is a softy or a push over. Carefronting does not mean sweeping something under the rug.

We really want payback
We love angry tirades! Let’s admit it: Jesus clearing the temple or chastising the Pharisees seems exciting to us. We love the emotional release of anger and vengeance. After all, the Bible instructs us to be separate, be holy, be pure. The Bible has a word for that approach from His own: arrogance. “Vengeance is mine, says the LORD.” The struggle of conflict is the dark side of our soul. We want payback, God wants reconciliation. Take a minute to read 1 Corinthians 13. Circle the words that relate to conflict. Does payback fit love? Does our thirst for the emotional release of anger and vengeance fit this passage? Carefronting is demonstrating love. Love is hard!

Carefronting is meekness
Power under control defines meekness. Example: God sent Jesus as payment for our sin. He could have easily killed off the human population like He did in the flood. God has the power to do that. God instead took the John 3:16 approach. That is meekness. Carefronting is approaching the problem with the goal of restoration.

Seeds not Redwoods
Seeds are small and powerless. Redwoods are massive, with deep roots, and will likely cause damage when they fall.

Carefronting best starts before something becomes an issue (the seed). Conflicts explode because we often do not want to take action early before something is a problem. If you hate conflict, deal with things early and you will avoid many, but you will never avoid all.  To deal with seeds means we need to get over ourselves. Carefronting starts with care. If we truly love and care about someone, we start early, not later.

Bottom line:
Carefronting is speaking the truth in love. Carefronting is bearing one another’s burdens. Look at Carefronting vs Confronting again. If you are in a conflict, which mindset are you pursuing? Carefronting is about living Ephesians 4:32:

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”