Attorney Adams, Your insight into this field speaks volumes of the time, effort, and thought you have put in to bring peace to the body of Christ. It is awe inspiring to see how God uses you in such a dynamic, and candid way. This article offers real life solutions to real life problems. Due to the fact that the church is a place filled with hurting individuals, conflict resolution should be at the forefront of teachings, but often is shunned. I am glad to see you continue on in the good work God has called you to do. No one can take the place of someone operating in their true calling, as you do.
William Harralson, Oakland CA 10/13/09
You have provided insightful and Spirit-filled words of counsel for clergy, lay leaders, and other Peacemakers.
And your words are very timely. The reasons that leaders shy away from dealing with conflict are many and sometimes complex. One reason, however, is the desire to gain and maintain a sense of power and prestige.
In my view, far too many of our religious leaders are motivated by a conspicuous desire to win prestige and popularity for themselves. Not enough time and attention are given to addressing the pressing needs that exist to improve the economic, social, and spiritual condition of the people whom they have been charged to serve. Those leaders aspire for appointments to bigger and more prestigious churches, they compete with (and sometimes against) one another to increase congregational membership, and they strive to fill church coffers often at the expense of those individuals who have the least financial resources among us.
In such a climate of "clerical competition," it is understandable and foreseeable that some religious leaders will demonstrate a reluctance (or fear) of making the tough and frequently unpopular decisions that must be made when conflict arises; choices that could jeopardize their leadership status. In some instances dealing with conflict means that the leader must speak truth to power. Communicating words of truth will not always win friends and allies. The words may be unpopular and threatening to some. That is a risky and uncomfortable proposition for one who is trying to climb the ladder to personal success.
The good news is that our religious leaders can learn to effectively cope with conflict and they can realign their priorities. You have offered advice but, as I read your message, you have also extended a challenge to those leaders; a challenge that can only be met courageously and then sustained by faith and trust in God. Thank you for squarely addressing a very sensitive but pressing need for guidance and wise counsel that exists within the Faith Communmity and beyond.