Fred and Sally are in leadership on one of our plethora of teams. The city they are engaged with has a loooooooong history of division. It is an ideologically driven city. When someone in the church, government, education or marketplace makes up their mind about something, they dig in and establish a monumental defense for why their position is right.
On the one hand, in an era of soft theology, softer ethics, and values that are softer than soft, it is delightful to find people who will stand on their beliefs. On the other hand, it is no surprise at all that Fred and Sally have had a big old blow up and their leadership is in shambles.
There are three common wrong responses here.
I have listened to Sally’s impassioned version of how her values were more right than Fred’s. I could listen to Fred’s impassioned version of how his values are more right than hers.
Then I could dig in, find an area where each is wrong, find an area where each is right, thrown them each a bone, split the problem down the middle like Solomon and the baby, and negotiate a truce that keeps the leadership team together on the surface, but with a deep wound of distrust for the long term.
I could let one or the other be the winner and kick the “wrong” one off the team.
I could encourage the stronger of the two (not that I would care to make that call) to be the “good guy” by conceding the point completely to the other and allowing the wrong idea to go forward just to keep “unity” on the team.
“Repenting” when you are not feeling repentant and asking the other person for forgiveness when you don’t want it, is the more common way to resolve these issue.
While the first two were a wrong response, this one is a really wrong response.
So what is left?
Hit the demons, not your partner!!!!
Basically, the demonic stronghold from the city has messed with this situation, keeping both Fred and Sally from hearing each other’s HEART by keeping the focus on the surface issue.
As long as the discussion is about the values involved in the decision which was made, they will remain obdurate and hostile to each other. They have to hear each other’s heart. Then there can be some resolution.
I have no intention of hearing Fred’s side of the story if I can avoid it. I sent Sally back to her prayer closet and directed her to war against the strongman in the city for as long as it takes until Fred can hear her heart and she can hear his.
THEN they can sit down and look at the problem, but should zoom out and look at the big picture first. Discuss how the whole project began and what their vision and passion was so they can reunite their hearts before visiting the sore spot.
I had this same conversation with Sally and Fred yesterday in a different key of music and they didn’t hear it.
Fred sat down with a pastor in the city. The pastor told his sad, sad story about all the division in the church in the city. Fred said, “You need to talk to Arthur. He is going to be in the area later this year. He is an amazing strategist and can solve this problem.”
I said, “No, no, no. That is NOT how you do this conversation in this city.”
I explained that you cannot fight the divisive spirit in the city with intellectual acumen and excellence. What Fred should have said is, “Do you have any idea how much Arthur loves this city? He knows about the problems but is so excited about the fact that God was here first and there is an amazing treasure in this city. He has been talking about it for over ten years now.”
Do I have strategy for this city? You bet I do. By the truck load. But we lead with the heart whenever the demons have captured the intellect of a community.
When I meet this pastor and he jumps into his tale of woe, I will gently interrupt him and ask about his wife and kids and his journey, seeking to find his passion and his heart. Then we will share one of the two universal languages –pain and pleasure — around the issues of HIS heart.
When his heart and mine are somewhat knit together, then I will endure some discussion of demons and division and will suggest some strategies.
It will not be easy to help this city. In the end, there ARE ideological issues that need to be addressed and changed. There is no way to avoid that. But it is like disarming a bomb. Trying to keep the team alive through the process means coming back and whomping on the demonic over and over and over again, until we can hear each other’s hearts.
At the end of the day, there WILL we a win/lose with Fred and Sally. Someone will get what they want, and someone won’t. But if they can make the difficult decision having heard each other’s hearts, it will have a different tone and feel than when it is an ideological decision.
And at the end of the day, I really don’t like my teams empowering the demonic stronghold in the city by wrong responses to division. My teams are supposed to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Written from the Hub before 8:00 a.m. Going to stomp this one fast and hard. We are not having a forest fire get out of control on my watch!