Ed Delph

Dr Ed Delph writes:

Now I may have a doctorate but I’m neither a medical nor a mind doctor; My area, my field, is in ministry and in encouraging leaders.

But as I encourage people to resolve issues in their lives, at times it seems that the area has become an arena, even a minefield or should I say mind-field!

One such ‘mind-field’ involves couples and is not to do with the mind, but also the heart. It’s the matter of managing conflict.

Take for example this true-to-life story of a couple trying to resolve an argument. Let’s call them Fred and Nancy. Fred tells the story…

The other day, we got into a petty argument. I say it was petty. But Nancy still says it was Armageddon!

As is our nature, neither of us would admit the possibility that we might be in error. To her credit, Nancy finally said, ‘Look, I’ll tell you what. I’ll admit I’m wrong if you admit I was right.’

‘Fine,’ I said.

Then she took a deep breath, looked at me in the eye and said, ‘I’m wrong.’

I grinned and replied, ‘You’re right. Now Nancy, breathe slowly and count to ten…one, two, three…..!’

Managing conflict
How we manage conflict can either make us or break us, especially in today’s very angry, frustrated and emotions based world.

Whenever human beings relate, there will from time to time be problems, misunderstandings, arguments and disillusionment.

couple-arguingThe truth is we either manage conflict or our conflict will manage us. Resolving issues is much more productive and more emotionally healthy than ‘polarising’ over issues.

Jesus said it best in Matthew 18:7 (Message): ‘Hard times are inevitable, but you don’t have to make it worse – and it’s doomsday if you do.’

He was talking about relationships when he said that. The good news is you and I don’t have to make the conflict worse. This is especially true if both parties want to resolve the issues.

Five styles of handling conflict

  • Winning
    The win style says, ‘I’m right and you’re wrong.’ This style is more about winning a debate. It has to win – then withdraws. This style is not interested in negotiation. It’s one way…’My way.’
  • Withdrawing
    It says, ‘I can’t win…I’m never right…I’m mad and I’m shutting down…why try?’ This person feels that they are the victim. Their passive way of coping suggests that they have checked out on a meaningful relationship.
  • Yielding
    ‘I’ll give in for the sake of the relationship. It doesn’t matter that much.’ This person is generally codependent and doesn’t want to take a risk of breaking the relationship. However, fight against a feeling for the long term and you always lose.
  • Compromising
    It stays engaged but the engagement is conditional. ‘I’ll give only if you give. I’ll go as far as you go.’ It’s like a chess game that never reaches resolution.
  • Resolving
    This style looks for a win/win. ‘We both need a win. There is a right answer for both of us.’ But resolution requires that both parties get control of their emotions and choose to stay engaged in the resolution process. Both parties realise that they may have to give a little to get a lot. Sometimes you have to give up to go up which is a sign of growing up.

A lesson from crayons
Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names. All are different colours but they all have to live in the same box!

CrayonsOur differences don’t go away but our hostilities can. We can work it out if both parties are committed to the relationship as well as the process to resolve conflicts.

Christians are supposed to be a new creation, fit for infilling of the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of wisdom), not old wineskins (Mar. 2:22, Luk. 5: 37).

Particularly note Luk.5:38 – ‘Mindskins’ need to become ‘wineskins!’

Adapted from a recent Nationstrategy Newsletter

Dr Ed Delph is president of Nationstrategy, an organisation with the strategy of envisioning and empowering today’s leaders in the church to be some of tomorrow’s leaders in the community. Nationstrategy and Ed Delph’s purpose is to reveal ‘mindskins’ that create wineskins and environments for community transformation and enhancement.


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