Master of Divinity students have engaged in meaningful discussions on how to resolve conflicts throughout the Church Administration course at Olivet Theological College & Seminary this quarter. Many have gained insights from their related ministry experiences.
Olivia Lin shared that she has once struggled to manage disagreements with her coworkers in ministries. When someone commented on her work, she tended to take it personally. She felt her contribution being discredited, and her self-esteem was undermined. In response to that, Lin took a passive-aggressive approach by avoiding or pretending to back out from the conflict, and even sometimes trying to talk back. However, the word of God “be quick to listen, slow to speak” from the book of James 1:19b reminded Lin to change her way of handling conflicts. “In the midst of conflicts, it is important that we first put down our personal feelings and emotions, and try to listen to what others want to say and to what God wants to say,” Lin said, “then each individual and the team can all be drawn closer to the way of God and develop as a whole.”
First Year student Gilbert Gyu shared similar experiences. He said, “Conflict is very painful, but it's an opportunity for us to grow. Very often, I came to realize my weaknesses through conflicts. Instead of condemning others, we should look into our weaknesses and renew ourselves. Looking from this perspective, conflicts could actually strengthen us.”
Roger Heuser & Norman Shawchuck, authors of the textbook "Leading the congregation: Caring for yourself while serving others" used in this course, pointed out that the cycle of conflict is as follows: tension development, role dilemma, injustice collecting, confrontation and adjustments.
Another First Year student Annie Jiang related it to a Chinese idiom “no wind, no wave”. She thought that when conflicts rise up, one should look for the cause and communicate in time so as to narrow down the problem and deal with it effectively.
“As coworkers in the Kingdom of God, we shouldn’t leave any opportunity for the satan to break our relationships,” Jiang said. Besides, most students found the discussion on “team working through conflicts” important and applicable to their ministries.
“Conflicts are inevitable in the development of the ministry of God. The most important thing is to understand the cycle of conflict, and not to fall into despair. Always follow the words of God to reach reconciliations among coworkers so that the glory of God can be revealed once again,” professor of Church Administration Dr. Doohyun Yoon concluded.
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