Pastoral leadership often equates to conflict resolution. While you may have spent all of your seminary days thinking you’d be sitting in your office writing sermons based on the ridiculously powerful exegetical insights you gained while parsing through different aspects of the Greek New Testament, you won’t. At least not if you are a good pastor. Instead, you’ll find some of your time focused on helping people apply the gospel to their relationships. You’ll remind people that Jesus said, “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9 NLT).
In the past seven years, I’ve observed the following effective ways to avoid conflict resolution. If you want to continue on the path of being disconnected from people, not having depth in your relationships, and being avoided by people, here are five powerful ways to remain isolated:
(1) Hide from all conflict. If and when someone approaches you to ask how you are doing or what’s wrong, do not, under any circumstances, communicate about what’s bothering you. Instead, say things like, “I’m fine” or “It’s no big deal” or “Nothing’s wrong.” Make sure, however, to continue to reflect vibes of being upset, offended, or angry… just make sure not to deal with it.
(2) Never take responsibility. Regardless of what the other person says to you about how you have either hurt them or disappointed them or contributed to the conflict, do not take responsibility. Let’s be clear here. This means that you should not apologize and ask for forgiveness or try and acknowledge your humanity. By all means, place blame back upon the person who is addressing you or blame everyone else. This will ensure that (a) people will not approach you in the future and (b) you will maintain the superiority complex that you want to keep.
(3) Always generalize. Do not be specific in the examples you give or in any of your explanations. If you generalize, you accomplish two things: (a) you pigeon hole everyone you generalize and (b) when you are later confronted for pigeon holing someone you can just say you were speaking in general terms and go right back to suggestion #2.
(4) Post passive aggressive statements via social media (e.g. Twitter or Facebook). This will ensure that everyone knows that you are upset or frustrated or angry, but you can always go back to suggestions #1 and 2 when they ask you and just say something like, “Oh, that was just a Facebook joke” or “Someone hacked my Twitter account” in order to hide from the conflict and not take responsibility. The best types of passive aggressive statements are when you are able to say something extremely snarky and direct but put a smiley face at the end so that you can also pull the “just kidding” card. If you can make wide sweeping generalizations within your passive aggressive post, you get extra points.
(5) Tell everyone else about your conflict except the person(s) you are in conflict with. This is a golden rule. Do not, under any circumstances, avoid gossiping or slandering the people who you are in conflict with. If you can get a cheap shot in, go for it. You can always implement suggestion #1 if confronted or say something like, “I’m just sayin'” or “Just speakin’ the truth” too.
If you remember these five powerful ways to live in conflict, you can easily ensure that reconciliation and gospel application will be avoided. You will continue to have no friends and no influence in people’s lives. Pat yourself on the back… you’ve done it!
What would you add?
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.