In any group of individuals, there are bound to be times when one individual (or more often, several individuals) doesn’t respond to a given situation as others expect or desire.Â This collision of expectations and our own personal desires results in conflict.
We’ve all been on both sides of that interaction.Â Either our expectations were unmet or others failed to live up to our expectations.Â Not uncommon.Â Not unexpected.Â Not good.
While there are many systems that can be put into practice to try to alleviate these conflicts in an organization or for that matter a family–no system will succeed without three key virtues.
We must understand and remember the grace we have been given and graciously breathe out grace to others.Â People will make mistakes–we do–so an attitude of grace first is key.Â “Grace first” means that we extend grace first, before we respond in anger or frustration. “Grace first” means I don’t expect more of them than I could live up to.Â “Grace first” means I learn to overlook what should be overlooked and what should not bother me.
When we have known people close to us (in our families) or in leadership over us or direct reports to us (in the church) for any amount of time–we need to learn to trust.Â Rather than assuming the worst, we must assume the best, trusting that their intent is not to do harm.Â If we really believe their intentions, their motivations are evil, then we have the responsibility of correcting.Â But not every action–even those that we don’t like–are intended to harm us or ruin our situation.Â And a general trust is not unhealthy.
Do we really want to live having to “prove ourselves” every time we make a decision or carry out an action?
When there is a situation in which an individual has erred or in which they have a blind spot we are compelled to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
In Christian circles we tend to think that “that’s the way they are” is extending grace–it is not.Â It may be gracious of us not to come down on them without sensitivity, but to leave someone with their failings and flaws is not grace giving.Â We may need to come alongside and assist rather than just point out their failings.
We also tend to think that avoidance is next to godliness because we are enduring patiently.Â Avoiding engaging in helpful grace-filled, loving truth-speaking is not godliness but cowardice. It is easy to gossip, it is easy to point fingers, it is easy to avoid, but it takes maturity to engage.
To paraphrase Matt Chandler, It’s okay to not be okay–but it’s not okay to leave someone there.