Where Do We Go From Here?

Where Do We Go From Here: The Path To Biblically Resolving Conflict by Randal L. Gilmore
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My journey on the path toward resolving conflict biblically began almost sixteen years ago when I took a graduate course on conflict while studying organizational communication at Western Michigan University. One night the professor for the class invited a guest lecturer by the name of Ann Lauderdale to share a few words about her work with community-based alternative dispute resolution centers in the State of Michigan. Ann told all about the local center she had founded in Kalamazoo, and she gave a synopsis of the formal mediation training the center offered. Sometime later a crisis broke out in the church where I was the senior pastor, embroiling me in a dispute with one of the church’s influential members. It did not go or end well, which took a tremendous toll on me both physically and emotionally. Before long, I found myself signing up for the aforementioned training in hopes I might learn something useful for settling future conflicts more peaceably.

I was not disappointed. Among other things, the training exposed me to “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher and William Ury, which emphasizes the role that positions and interests play in resolving conflict. I explain these concepts from a biblical perspective in chapters six and seven.

After the training I was hooked. I began to read everything I could on conflict, although most of what I found came from secular sources. I carefully compared everything I read to what the Bible teaches. One day, on my way home from a mediation I had led overseas, I began to review in my mind the principles and applications I had shared with the parties involved in the conflict. For some reason, at that moment, I finally realized how strong of a connection there is between collaborative methods of dispute resolution and embracing the interests of others as modeled by Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:4 exhorts: “Let each of you look out not only for your own interests, but also the interests of others.” The verse that follows makes the connection to our Lord. “Let this mind be in you,” wrote the Apostle Paul, “which was also in Christ Jesus.”

From then on, my love for the subject of conflict management took on new life. And my teaching took on new energy. Moving beyond what has been written by secular authors and researchers, I gained insight into a practical methods for applying key Scriptures dealing with relationships, along with the motivation to pursue and develop those methods with passion.

"Where Do We Go From Here?" is a summary of what I have learned about conflict and the steps that lead to biblical resolution. The credit for much of what is contained herein goes to the sources found in the bibliography at the end. For instance, in chapter two, I write about stages of relationships using labels developed by Bruce Tuckman. In chapter three, I write about conflict management styles, which are the brainchild of researchers Thomas and Kilman. In chapter nine, I refer to the bases of power first suggested by authors French and Raven.

Nevertheless, there are many things in "Where Do We Go From Here?" for which there is no one else to take the “blame” other than me. The definition of conflict in chapter one is mine, as is the acrostic G.L.O.W. in chapters four and five. Also, in chapter five, anyone who has been around me for long can tell you the origin of wart and beauty-mark magnifiers. The process for resolving conflict biblically in chapter eight comes from a refining of numerous mediations among churches, Christian workers, husbands and wives, and other ordinary Christians locked in battle with one another. The illustrations (with the exception of the “The Voice of Tinker Jones” story) also are mine. I relived many of them as I wrote, and more than once I felt a little vulnerable. Still, I thought it worth the risk to enflesh the examples.

The other critical component of this text belonging strictly to me is the passion the Lord has given me for the path toward biblically resolving conflict. I love the material contained in this book. I believe in it. I seek to put it in practice at every opportunity. I pray daily that the Lord will help me to grow in it personally and as a steward and communicator.

"Where Do We Go From Here?" is designed to be read more than once. It is intended to serve as a valuable resource for pastors, Christian workers, husbands and wives, students, and others in Christ’s Body. My prayer is for God to bless you as you step onto the path for resolving conflict biblically.

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