Leading Individuals and Teams Through Conflict

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were great friends.  Throughout their near-lifelong friendship, as far as we know they never had a problem.

Never had a solution, either.

Friends?  Yes.  And boring.

Jefferson and John Adams?  Boy, was that a different story.  One looooong, near-lifelong debate.  Fiery exchanges.  Icy periods of silence.  And one of the warmest, most profound collections of letters in history between these two icons, who died on the same day, 50 years to the day after the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Friends?  Oh my, yes.  They each had busts of the other in their homes.  And Adams, not knowing his friend had already died, departed this life with these words:  “Thomas Jefferson still survives.”

That said, let’s be honest.  Few of us get up in the morning hoping to cross swords with friends.  Or spouses.  Or parents or kids or team members or employees or constituents or customers. (Dear Mark:  Please call again soon – I promise I’ll be nicer on the recorded line for quality assurance purposes.)  And yet the quality of your relationship is measured – not by the lack of conflict, but by how those conflicts are managed and solutions are forged.

(Dear Congress… Oh.  Well.  Never mind.)

Here’s how Thomas Gordon puts it: [click to continue…]


(Tense Truth:  Every believer occupies a position of victory and authority because of the finished work of Christ. But we can position ourselves to fall victim to Satan – an already-defeated foe.)

He’s the player to be named later.  The unwelcome guest at any crisis, the unspoken stalker behind every fear.  He’s the artful author of your doubtful thoughts about God and the persistent reminder that you should just go ahead and quit. 

And before a wise apostle concludes his note of encouragement to suffering believers, he puts in a plug to remind you and me…

This lion doesn’t sleep tonight.  Or any night.

Pull back the Curtain of the Seen in the Land of the Obvious, and you will find that behind every frustration, accompanying every conflict, and beside every expression of trust in God, a battle is being waged.  And you’re in it. [click to continue…]

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It’s a universal problem, I suppose.  In more than 30 years of church work, one of the most common refrains I have heard (and generated, I’m sure) is, “I don’t like my pastor.”

I’ve heard it from every conceivable angle.  Staff members who feel like they’re working for an isolated jerk.  Church members who miss – or are tired of – the old guy.  People who can’t stand the new guy.  Heck, I’ve even met pastors who didn’t like themselves.

Little did I know there is a counseling hotline available for people to call for advice or to vent their frustrations.  It’s called, appropriately enough, the “I Don’t Like My Pastor Hotline” – or “Idle Miff” for short.

Idle Miff is run by a guy named Big Al, who will only give his first name.  His only other known credential:  he was once a pastor himself.  Rumor has it that Big Al has a gift for cutting to the issue… and cutting to the quick if he has to.

And for the first time ever, Big Al has agreed to an exclusive interview.  Be amazed, friends.

Be amazed, too, that Big Al probably weighs about 130 pounds dripping wet.

It’s a busy day at Idle Miff, and Big Al, as always, is working the phones alone.  Mondays are always his busiest day, he says, “for obvious reasons.”  So we’ll just have to be OK to catch him between hotline calls.

Not a problem, says I.  It’ll be fun to see him in operation. [click to continue…]


(Reconciling Your Dreams with God’s Plan)

conflictOnce upon a time, a young man had a dream – a prophetic dream.  He dreamed that he had two homes, his own boat, and would travel internationally and be a blessing to many people.  This could only mean one thing!  Obviously God was calling him into the business world, where he would make a lot of money and use his wealth to make the world a better place. 

After seeking some counsel and getting confirmation that he was headed in the right direction, he changed his college major to business and prepared for a life of benevolent wealth management.

 Then he met her.  [click to continue…]


kickball“What are you teaching them about?” my daughter asked – referring to our upcoming pastors and leaders training in Thailand.

“Leadership,” I said.

“Well, can I ask you something?  Is there a way – I’m not sure how to say this – is there a way to ‘dumb down’ leadership training?”

My pause meant, “Keep going.”

“I have to train these fifth-and-sixth-grade leaders every day at FROG camp for about 30 minutes on being a leader, and I was wondering how I could explain biblical leadership on their level.”

I did a random brainstorm with her.  Talked about David and Joshua and Paul and Jesus.  Hurled out Bible passages like Joshua 1:1-9, 2 Timothy, 1 Peter 5:2-4, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.  She said “thanks,” but I hung up with the feeling that I hadn’t “dumbed down” anything.

That got me to thinking later.  I have a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership.  I’ve spent years studying theories and models, biblical principles and best practices.  But none of them – none – involved fifth- or sixth-graders.

Maybe we have it backwards.  Rather than presuming to teach 11-year-olds all about leading, maybe we should try to learn some things from them.  [click to continue…]


Are You Living in the Land of Nod?

by Andy Wood on February 4, 2009

in Life Currency, Love

broken-homePreston is about 14 months old; his future is literally wide open in front of him.  But even as young as he is, he already is feeling the effects of a broken home.  He didn’t ask for it, but for the rest of his life he’ll be living in the Land of Nod.

Gina grew up in the perfect family – at least that’s what everyone believed.  But they didn’t hear the verbal and occasional physical abuse Gina suffered growing up.  Very few understand the strange combination of anger and shyness that marks her personality today.  But the long trail of disrupted friendships and broken romances tell the painful story.  Gina is living in the land of Nod.

In the aftermath of history’s first broken relationship, the Bible says that Cain “went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the Land of Nod, on the East of Eden” (Genesis 4:16).  As a race, we’ve been living in the aftermath of broken relationships – in the Land of Nod – ever since.

Are We Still That Clueless?

It’s amazing.  Thousands of years of history have passed, and we’ve learned an awful lot.  These days the knowledge available to the world doubles at rates we measure by minutes rather than centuries.  What’s more amazing to me, however, is what we have yet to learn. [click to continue…]


Tense truth:  We are individually accountable to God for what we have done with the death and resurrection of His Son and with the life He has given us.  However, we are completely dependent on a community of relationships, and cannot survive or thrive in isolation.  Our community won’t be there when we stand before the Lord, but they must be connected to us until we get there.


From the genius of David Hayward comes this funny/sad characterization of a lot of people I have known (and one or two I have been).

No coincidence that David posted this on the same day I made this statement:  There is not enough of you available to live all your life.  You’re a fool to try…

Ever see a sequoia tree?  Fantastic piece of God’s creation.  An awesome living structure that can reach as high as 300 feet.

Ever see a sequoia tree standing by itself?

Chances are, you won’t.  Strange thing, this tree – to be so tall, it has a very shallow root system.  If it stood alone, it couldn’t make it; when the wind grew strong, it wouldn’t take it.  So the sequoias build a network of root systems and together they flourish, side by side.

You and I were designed to function like the sequoia tree. [click to continue…]